Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a poor-prognosis cancer due to its high rate of recurrence. microRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of small non-coding RNA molecules that affect crucial processes in cancer development. The objective of this study is to identify the role of miRNAs in patient bone marrow (BM) and explore the function of these molecules during HCC progression. We purified miRNAs from bone marrow cells of seven HCC patients, and divided them into three fractions by cell surface markers as follows: CD14+ (macrophage), CD14−/CD45+ (lymphocyte), and CD14−/CD45−/EpCAM+ (epithelial cell). We employed microarray-based profiling to analyze miRNA expression in the bone marrow of patients with HCC. Differentially expressed miRNAs were significantly different between fractions from whole bone marrow, macrophages, and lymphocytes, and depended on stages in tumor progression. Differences in expression of miRNAs associated with cell proliferation also varied significantly between HCC patients with recurrence, multiple tumors, and advanced clinical stages. These results suggest that miRNA profiles in separated fractions of BM cells are associated with HCC progression.
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