Salivary MicroRNA for Diagnosis of Cancer and Systemic Diseases: A Systematic Review

Giacomo Setti, Margherita E Pezzi, Maria Vittoria Viani, Thelma A Pertinhez, Diana Cassi, Cristina Magnoni, Pierantonio Bellini, Antonino Musolino, Paolo Vescovi, Marco Meleti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


: Background: The aberrant expression of microRNAs (miRNAs) has been associated with several diseases, including cancer, inflammatory, and autoimmune conditions. Interest in salivary miRNAs as non-invasive tools for the diagnosis of malignancies and systemic diseases is rapidly increasing. The present systematic review was developed for answering the question: "Are salivary microRNAs reliable biomarkers for diagnosis of cancer and systemic diseases?"

METHODS: The application of inclusion and exclusion criteria led to the selection of 11 papers. Critical appraisals and quality assessments of the selected studies were performed through the National Institute of Health "Study Quality Assessment Tool" and the classification of the Oxford Center for Evidence-Based Medicine.

RESULTS: Seven studies reported statistically significant correlations between one or more salivary miRNAs and the investigated disease. The critical analysis allowed us to classify only two studies (18.2%) as having "good" quality, the rest being scored as "intermediate" (8; 73%) and "poor" (1; 9%). Evidence exists that salivary miR-940 and miR-3679-5p are reliable markers for pancreatic cancer and that miR140-5p and miR301a are promising molecules for the salivary diagnosis of gastric cancer.

CONCLUSIONS: Further studies, possibly avoiding the risk of bias highlighted here, are necessary to consolidate these findings and to identify new reliable salivary biomarkers.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jan 30 2020


  • Autoimmune Diseases/diagnosis
  • Biomarkers/analysis
  • Humans
  • Inflammation/diagnosis
  • MicroRNAs/genetics
  • Neoplasms/diagnosis
  • Saliva/metabolism


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