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Melanoma remains the leading cause of skin cancer–related deaths. Surgical resection and adjuvant therapies can result in disease-free intervals for stage III and stage IV disease; however, recurrence is common. Understanding microRNA (miR) dynamics following surgical resection of melanomas is critical to accurately interpret miR changes suggestive of melanoma recurrence. Plasma of 6 patients with stage III (n = 2) and stage IV (n = 4) melanoma was evaluated using the NanoString platform to determine pre- and postsurgical miR expression profiles, enabling analysis of more than 800 miRs simultaneously in 12 samples. Principal component analysis detected underlying patterns of miR expression between pre- vs postsurgical patients. Group A contained 3 of 4 patients with stage IV disease (pre- and postsurgical samples) and 2 patients with stage III disease (postsurgical samples only). The corresponding preoperative samples to both individuals with stage III disease were contained in group B along with 1 individual with stage IV disease (pre- and postsurgical samples). Group A was distinguished from group B by statistically significant analysis of variance changes in miR expression (P < .0001). This analysis revealed that group A vs group B had downregulation of let-7b-5p, miR-520f, miR-720, miR-4454, miR-21-5p, miR-22-3p, miR-151a-3p, miR-378e, and miR-1283 and upregulation of miR-126-3p, miR-223-3p, miR-451a, let-7a-5p, let-7g-5p, miR-15b-5p, miR-16-5p, miR-20a-5p, miR-20b-5p, miR-23a-3p, miR-26a-5p, miR-106a-5p, miR-17-5p, miR-130a-3p, miR-142-3p, miR-150-5p, miR-191-5p, miR-199a-3p, miR-199b-3p, and miR-1976. Changes in miR expression were not readily evident in individuals with distant metastatic disease (stage IV) as these individuals may have prolonged inflammatory responses. Thus, inflammatory-driven miRs coinciding with tumor-derived miRs can blunt anticipated changes in expression profiles following surgical resection.
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