Can germ cell neoplasia in situ be diagnosed by measuring serum levels of microRNA371a-3p?

Diagnosing germ cell neoplasia in situ (GCNis) can detect germ cell tumours (GCTs) at the pre-invasive stage. To date, testicular biopsy with the potential of surgical complications is the only way of safely diagnosing GCNis. Recently, microRNAs (miRs) 371-3, and miR 367 were shown to be valuable serum biomarkers of GCTs. We explored the usefulness of these candidate miRs as a marker for GCNis.

27 patients with GCNis and no concomitant GCT were enrolled. All patients underwent measuring serum levels of miR-371a-3p and miR-367-3p before treatment, 11 had repeat measurement after treatment, 2 also had testicular vein blood examinations. Serum levels were measured by quantitative PCR. In addition, four orchiectomy specimens of patients with GCT were examined immunohistochemically and by in situ hybridization (ISH) with a probe specific for miR-371a-3p to look for the presence of this miR in GCNis cells.

The median serum level of miR-371a-3p was significantly higher in patients with GCNis than in controls, miR-367 levels were not elevated. Overall, 14 patients (51.9%) had elevated serum levels of miR-371a-3p. The highest levels were found in patients with bilateral GCNis. Levels in testicular vein serum were elevated in both of the cases. After treatment, all elevated levels dropped to normal. In two orchiectomy specimens, miR-371a-3p was detected by ISH in GCNis cells.

Measuring miR-371a-3p serum levels can replace control biopsies after treatment of GCNis. In addition, the test can guide clinical decision making regarding the need of testicular biopsy in cases suspicious of GCNis.

Journal of cancer research and clinical oncology. 2017 Aug 17 [Epub ahead of print]

A Radtke, J-F Cremers, S Kliesch, S Riek, K Junker, S A Mohamed, P Anheuser, G Belge, K-P Dieckmann

Faculty of Biology and Chemistry, University of Bremen, Leobener Str. 2, 28359, Bremen, Germany. ., Department of Clinical and Surgical Andrology, Centre of Reproductive Medicine and Andrology, University of Muenster, Muenster, Germany., Faculty of Biology and Chemistry, University of Bremen, Leobener Str. 2, 28359, Bremen, Germany., Department of Pathology, Klinikum Bremen-Mitte, Bremen, Germany., Department of Cardiac and Thoracic Vascular Surgery, University of Luebeck, Luebeck, Germany., Department of Urology, Albertinen Krankenhaus, Hamburg, Germany.