Liver cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death worldwide: risk factors include the viruses, HBV and HCV, and the environmental carcinogen aflatoxin B1 (AFB1). Chemoprevention strategies that activate genes controlled by the KEAP1-NRF2 pathway, such as CDDO-Im, afford complete protection against AFB1-induced hepatocarcinogenesis in rats. The opportunity to deploy these types of agents in high-risk populations would be advanced by the validation of biomarkers reflecting their efficacy. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) affecting gene expression are important in normal physiology and have been shown to be frequently dysregulated in cancer. It is our hypothesis that specific rat liver miRNAs are biomarkers that temporally track with AFB1-induced liver cancer, and are modulated in animals that receive complete protection by CDDO-Im.
MiRNAs were isolated from archived liver tissue of rats (Johnson et al., CaPR, 2014) that were dosed with AFB1 (200 g) for 28 consecutive days. Two additional groups received either vehicle only or AFB1 + CDDO-Im (30 mol). After RNA isolation (miRCURY tissue, Exiqon), samples were profiled by RNA sequencing (Illumina). Fourteen miRNAs were selected based on dynamic range and level of detection for validation by RT-qPCR (TaqMan microRNA assay).
MiRNA profiling from animals at the end of the carcinogenic 28-day dosing regimen revealed an increased total number of miRNAs due to AFB1 exposure alone (n500) compared to control. Those miRNAs displaying a greater than 10 fold increase in expression between control and AFB1 treatment groups were examined in detail: 541-5p, 34a-5p, 127-3p, 205, 434-3p, 429, 411-5p, 181c-3p, 200b-3p, 221-3p. RNA-seq data showed that these were all upregulated in the AFB1-treated samples. Co-treatment with CDDO-Im shifted expression levels back to control. The miRNAs 192-3p, 92a-3p, 26b-3p, and 375-3p were expressed consistently in all treatment groups and were selected for normalization. Expression levels of the 14 candidate miRNAs were then examined in liver samples obtained from rats after 7, 14 and 21 doses AFB1 and compared to levels determined at week 4 (28 doses AFB1). Quantitative analysis demonstrated an increase in expression of the panel of miRNAs due to AFB1 exposure over the dosing period, potentially indicating a role in early carcinogenesis. MicroRNA expression showed a varying trend over time in animals treated with AFB1 plus CDDO-Im. Three invariant miRNAs (miR-375-3p, 92a-3p, 192-3p) showed little change during the 28-day exposure period.
In conclusion, we have identified a panel of miRNAs that are upregulated and track with AFB1 exposure. These changes are abrogated by treatment with CDDO-Im and thus reflect the protective efficacy of the intervention. Supported by T32ES007141-31A1 and CA197222.
Citation Format: Merricka C. Livingstone, Bill D. Roebuck, Natalie M. Johnson, Thomas W. Kensler, John D. Groopman. Temporal trends in microRNAs during subchronic aflatoxin dosing and modulation by the chemopreventive oleane triterpenoid, CDDO-Im. [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the 107th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research; 2016 Apr 16-20; New Orleans, LA. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2016;76(14 Suppl):Abstract nr 1083.