The role of microRNA in head and neck cancer: Current knowledge and perspectives

Giulia Courthod, Pierfrancesco Franco, Loredana Palermo, Salvatore Pisconti, Gianmauro Numico

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Head and neck cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed malignancies worldwide. Patients with advanced disease stages frequently develop recurrences or distant metastasis, which results a five-year survival rates of less than 60% despite considerable advances in multimodality therapy. A better understanding of molecular basis of tumorigenesis is required to improve clinical outcomes and to develop new anti-cancer drugs. microRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of small, non-coding, RNA molecules that modulate gene expression post-Transcriptionally. They are important regulator in normal biological process; however miRNAs deregulation has been observed in many different tumors and is involved in tumorigenesis. miRNAs may act as tumor suppressors or as oncogenes. Several studies on head and neck cancer demonstrated how aberrant expression of miRNAs is involved in proliferation, metastasis, chemoresistence, and radioresistance. In addition, miRNAs are excellent biomarker targets because they circulate stable in human body fluids and can be obtained with non-invasive methods. Moreover, miRNAs up and down regulation has been correlated with specific cancer phenotype (poor prognosis, aggressiveness and resistance to treatment), playing a role as prognostic biomarkers. This review summarizes current finding on miRNAs in head and neck cancer and their potential role as target for next drug therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5704-5716
Number of pages13
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Biomarkers
  • Chemoresistence
  • Hand and neck cancer
  • MicroRNA
  • Radioresistence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Organic Chemistry
  • Medicine(all)


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