MicroRNA profiling in serous cavity specimens: Diagnostic challenges and new opportunities

Lorenzo Nicolè, Filippo Cappello, Rocco Cappellesso, Christopher J. VandenBussche, Ambrogio Fassina

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The cytomorphologic evaluation of serous cavity specimens can quickly determine the cause of an effusion as well as the presence or absence of a neoplastic process. Ancillary tests such as immunohistochemistry and fluorescence in situ hybridization are frequently used to help to definitively identify malignant cells, determine a site of origin, and distinguish between malignant and reactive mesothelial proliferations. In recent years, microRNAs (miRNAs) have been increasingly evaluated in cytologic specimens, including those from serous cavities. The examination of miRNA is attractive because of the stability of miRNA in such specimens and data suggesting that miRNA can provide prognostic and therapeutic information in addition to its role in diagnosis. Furthermore, miRNAs exist within extracellular exosomes, and this allows for their analysis in specimens that contain only rare malignant cells, degenerated cells, or obscuring components. This review discusses the technical aspects of specimen processing for miRNA analysis, recent studies of miRNA expression in malignant serous cavity specimens, and the potential importance of miRNA expression analysis for serous cavity specimens in the near future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)493-500
Number of pages8
JournalCancer Cytopathology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2019


  • effusions
  • gastric cancer
  • lung cancer
  • malignant mesothelioma
  • microRNAs (miRNAs)
  • ovarian cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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