The role of circular rnas in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma and biliary-tract cancers

Christopher Limb, Daniel S. K. Liu, Morten T. Veno, Eleanor Rees, Jonathan Krell, Izhar N. Bagwan, Elisa Giovannetti, Hardev Pandha, Oliver Strobel, Timothy A. Rockall, Adam E. Frampton

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma (PDAC) and biliary-tract cancers (BTC) often present at a late stage, and consequently patients have poor survival-outcomes. Circular RNAs (circRNAs) are non-coding RNA molecules whose role in tumourigenesis has recently been realised. They are stable, conserved and abundant, with tissue-specific expression profiles. Therefore, significant interest has arisen in their use as potential biomarkers for PDAC and BTC. High-throughput methods and more advanced bioinformatic techniques have enabled better profiling and progressed our understanding of how circRNAs may function in the competing endogenous RNA (ceRNA) network to influence the transcriptome in these cancers. Therefore, the aim of this systematic review was to describe the roles of circRNAs in PDAC and BTC, their potential as biomarkers, and their function in the wider ceRNA network in regulating microRNAs and the transcriptome. Medline, Embase, Scopus and PubMed were systematically reviewed to identify all the studies addressing circRNAs in PDAC and BTC. A total of 32 articles were included: 22 considering PDAC, 7 for Cholangiocarcinoma (CCA) and 3 for Gallbladder Cancer (GBC). There were no studies investigating Ampullary Cancer. Dysregulated circRNA expression was associated with features of malignancy in vitro, in vivo, and ex vivo. Overall, there have been very few PDAC and BTC tissues profiled for circRNA signatures. Therefore, whilst the current studies have demonstrated some of their functions in these cancers, further work is required to elucidate their potential role as cancer biomarkers in tissue, biofluids and biopsies.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3250
Pages (from-to)1-29
Number of pages29
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2020


  • Biliary tract cancer
  • Biomarker
  • CircRNAs
  • Circrna
  • Circular RNA
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma

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