Epigenetic factors are essentially involved in carcinogenesis, tumor promotion, and chemoresistance. Two epigenetic key players are miRNAs and histone deacetylases (HDACs). As previously shown by own theoretical databank analysis, the crosstalk between miRNAs and HDACs is relevant in different human chronic diseases and cancerogenic pathways. We aimed to investigate a potential connection between the expression of a well-defined subset of “proliferation-associated” miRNAs and the expression of HDACs as well as clinical parameters in pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (pNETs). Materials and Methods: Expression levels of miRNA132-3p, miRNA145-5p, miRNA183-5p, miRNA34a-5p, and miRNA449a in 57 pNETs resected between 1997 and 2015 were measured and linked to the immunohistochemical expression pattern of members of the four HDAC classes on human tissue microarrays. All pNET cases were clinically and pathologically characterized according to published guidelines. Correlation analysis revealed a significant association between expression of specific miRNAs and two members of the HDAC family (HDAC3 and HDAC4). Additionally, a linkage between miRNA expression and clinico-pathological parameters like grading, TNM-staging, and hormone activity was found. Moreover, overall and disease-free survival is statistically correlated with the expression of the investigated miRNAs. Overall, we demonstrated that specific miRNAs could be linked to HDAC expression in pNETs. Especially miRNA449a (associated with HDAC3/4) seems to play an important role in pNET proliferation and could be a potential prognostic factor for poor survival. These first data could help, to improve our knowledge of the complex interactions of the epigenetic drivers in pNETs for further therapeutic approaches.
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