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BioMed Research International
Volume 2014, Article ID 486413, 8 pages
Review Article

The Impact of Extracellular Vesicle-Encapsulated Circulating MicroRNAs in Lung Cancer Research

1Division of Molecular and Cellular Medicine, National Cancer Center Research Institute, 5-1-1 Tsukiji, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-0045, Japan
2Division of Respiratory Diseases, Department of Internal Medicine, Jikei University School of Medicine, 3-19-18 Nishi-shinbashi, Minato-ku, Tokyo 105-8471, Japan

Received 18 July 2014; Accepted 25 August 2014; Published 11 September 2014

Academic Editor: Chengfeng Yang

Copyright © 2014 Yu Fujita et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths. Biomarkers for lung cancer have raised great expectations in their clinical applications for early diagnosis, survival, and therapeutic responses. MicroRNAs (miRNAs), a family of short endogenous noncoding RNAs, play critical roles in cell growth, differentiation, and the development of various types of cancers. Current studies have shown that miRNAs are present in the extracellular spaces, packaged into various membrane-bound vesicles. Tumor-specific circulating miRNAs have been developed as early diagnostic biomarkers for lung cancer. Remarkably, some studies have succeeded in discovering circulating miRNAs with prognostic or predictive significance. Extracellular vesicles (EVs), such as exosomes and microvesicles, are recognized as novel tools for cell-cell communication and as biomarkers for various diseases. Their vesicle composition and miRNA content have the ability to transfer biological information to recipient cells and play an important role in cancer metastasis and prognosis. This review provides an in-depth summary of current findings on circulating miRNAs in lung cancer patients used as diagnostic biomarkers. We also discuss the role of EV miRNAs in cell-cell communication and explore the effectiveness of these contents as predictive biomarkers for cancer malignancy.