Osteoblastoma is a benign bone tumor that can often be difficult to distinguish from malignant osteosarcoma. Because misdiagnosis can result in unfavorable clinical outcomes, we have investigated microRNAs as potential diagnostic biomarkers for distinguishing between these two tumor types. Next generation RNA sequencing was used as an expression screen to evaluate >2,000 microRNAs present in tissue derived from rare formalin fixed paraffin embedded (FFPE) archival tumor specimens. MicroRNAs displaying the greatest ability to discriminate between these two tumors were validated on an independent tumor set, using qPCR assays. Initial screening by RNA-seq identified four microRNA biomarker candidates. Expression of three miRNAs (miR-451a, miR-144-3p, miR-486-5p) was higher in osteoblastoma, while the miR-210 was elevated in osteosarcoma. Validation of these microRNAs on an independent data set of 22 tumor specimens by qPCR revealed that miR-210 is the most discriminating marker. This microRNA displays low levels of expression across all of the osteoblastoma specimens and robust expression in the majority of the osteosarcoma specimens. Application of these biomarkers to a clinical test case showed that these microRNA biomarkers permit re-classification of a misdiagnosed FFPE tumor sample from osteoblastoma to osteosarcoma. Our findings establish that the hypoxia-related miR-210 is a discriminatory marker that distinguishes between osteoblastoma and osteosarcoma. This discovery provides a complementary molecular approach to support pathological classification of two diagnostically challenging musculoskeletal tumors. Because miR-210 is linked to the cellular hypoxia response, its detection may be linked to well-established pro-angiogenic and metastatic roles of hypoxia in osteosarcomas and other tumor cell types.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine