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Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most common malignancy and the second most common cause of cancer death worldwide. Early detection of CRC can improve patient survival rates; thus, the identification of noninvasive diagnostic markers is urgently needed. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have extensive potential to diagnose several diseases, including cancer. In this study, we compared the expression pattern of miRNAs from plasma and stool samples of patients with early stages of CRC (I, II) with that of healthy subjects. We performed miRNA profiling using microarrays on plasma and stool samples of eight patients with CRC and four healthy subjects. Seven miRNAs were found to be underexpressed in both plasma and stool samples of patients with CRC versus healthy subjects. Then, we aimed to verify two out of these seven differentially expressed miRNAs (let-7a-5p and let-7f-5p) by quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction on a larger set of plasma and stool samples of 51 patients with CRC and 26 healthy subjects. We confirmed the results of microarray analysis since their expression was significantly lower in stool and plasma samples of patients with CRC. Moreover, receiver operating characteristic curve analysis demonstrated that fecal let-7f expression levels have significant sensitivity and specificity to distinguish between patients with CRC and healthy subjects. In conclusion, if the results are confirmed in larger series of patients, underexpressed let-7a-5p and let-7f-5p miRNAs in both plasma and stool samples of patients with CRC may serve potentially as noninvasive molecular biomarkers for the early detection of CRC.
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