There is no available blood marker for the preoperative diagnosis of adrenocortical malignancy. The objective of this study was to investigate the expression of extracellular vesicle-associated microRNAs and their diagnostic potential in plasma samples of patients suffering from adrenocortical tumors. Extracellular vesicles were isolated either by using Total Exosome Isolation Kit or by differential centrifugation/ultracentrifugation. Preoperative plasma extracellular vesicle samples of 6 adrenocortical adenomas (ACA) and 6 histologically verified adrenocortical cancer (ACC) were first screened by Taqman Human Microarray A-cards. Based on the results of screening, two miRNAs were selected and validated by targeted quantitative real-time PCR. The validation cohort included 18 ACAs and 16 ACCs. Beside RNA analysis, extracellular vesicle preparations were also assessed by transmission electron microscopy, flow cytometry and dynamic light scattering. Significant overexpression of hsa-miR-101 and hsa-miR-483-5p in ACC relative to ACA samples has been validated. Receiver operator characteristics of data revealed dCT hsa-miR-483-5p normalized to cel-miR-39 to have the highest diagnostic accuracy (area under curve 0.965), the sensitivity and the specifity were 87.5 and 94.44, respectively. Extracellular vesicle-associated hsa-miR-483-5p thus appears to be a promising minimally invasive biomarker in the preoperative diagnosis of ACC but needs further validation in larger cohorts of patients.
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