A clinical update on the prognostic effect of microRNA biomarkers for survival outcome in nasopharyngeal carcinoma: A systematic review and meta-analysis

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Background: Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC), a relatively uncommon malignancy in the Western world, is highly prevalent in Southeast Asia where the treatment outcomes are poor. De-spite recent improvements in diagnosis and treatment locoregional control, distant metastasis and chemoresistance continue to be a significant cause of mortality. Identification of a reliable and comprehensive prognostic biomarker is highly desirable. The potential relevance of microRNAs (miR-NAs) as prognostic markers in NPC is assessed in this systematic review and meta-analysis. Meth-ods: A systematic review was performed using the PubMed and Science Direct databases. The search was limited to search results between 2018 and 2020 with the keywords and search strings devel-oped as per the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-analysis (PRISMA) guidelines. The recovered articles were carefully screened based on the selection criteria. In the meta-analysis study, high and low expression levels of miRNAs were measured using the hazard ratio (HR) and 95 percent confidence interval (CI) for patients’ survival outcomes. Egger’s bias indicator test and funnel plot symmetry were used to assess the risk of bias. Results: Amongst the 25 studies, 13 fulfilled the conditions of inclusion in this meta-analysis. The researchers further delved into the 21 miRNA expression levels from 3015 NPC patients to ascertain a link between miRNA’s predictive role and survival outcomes. The majority of the articles retrieved during this study were from China, with two studies from Canada and Malaysia. The overall pooled effect size estimation (HR) for dysregulated miRNAs was 1.590 (95% CI: 1.253–2.017), displaying that miRNA marker expression increased the risk of mortality in NPC patients by 59%. Conclusions: This meta-analysis is novel and looks at the prognostic significance of miRNAs as biomarkers in NPC patients using a continuous version pooled meta-analysis. Although our findings are ambiguous, they do show that greater miRNA expression in NPC may be associated with a lower overall survival rate. To acquire clear conclusions, more prospective studies with large cohorts are required to determine the clinical utility of miRNAs as prognostic biomarkers.



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