Special Issue "Epigenetic Factors Involved in the Development of Tumors of the Digestive Tract"

A special issue of Biology (ISSN 2079-7737). This special issue belongs to the section "Genetics and Genomics".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 July 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Luca Falzone
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Epidemiology Unit, IRCCS Istituto Nazionale Tumori "Fondazione G. Pascale", 80131 Naples, Italy
Interests: microRNAs; bioinformatics; epigenetics; biomarker discovery; cancer
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Saverio Candido
E-Mail Website
Co-Guest Editor
1 Department of Biomedical and Biotechnological Sciences, University of Catania, 95123 Catania, Italy
2 Research Center for Prevention, Diagnosis and Treatment of Cancer, University of Catania, 95123 Catania, Italy
Interests: cancer pathways; DNA methylation; epigenetics; tumor microenvironment; biomarker discovery
Dr. Caterina Maria Grillo
E-Mail Website
Co-Guest Editor
Department of Medical Sciences, Surgical and Advanced Technologies, University of Catania, 95123 Catania, Italy
Interests: audiology; phoniatrics; hearing disorders

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The digestive tract is constantly exposed to environmental factors, including air pollutants, microorganisms, and harmful agents (e.g., smoke and alcohol), able to induce both genetic and epigenetic changes that may alter its cellular biology and homeostasis. A growing body of evidence demonstrated that these stimuli induce molecular alterations involved in the development of inflammatory and chronic diseases, including cancer. In this context, among the epigenetic modifications induced by environmental factors, DNA methylation and the alteration of the expression levels of non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs), including microRNAs (miRNAs), circRNA, and lncRNA, have been recognized as key mechanisms underlying tumor development in the digestive tract. Therefore, the early identification of such epigenetic alterations may give further information for the understanding of tumor biology and may predict the risk of cancer development.

On these basis, the aim of this Special Issue is to highlight the main findings regarding the identification of epigenetic factors involved in neoplastic transformation and their potential role as useful biomarkers for the diagnosis and prognosis of tumors affecting the digestive tract, from the oral cavity to the rectum. In addition, this Special Issue aims to collect the latest discoveries about the use of epigenetic factors as novel and promising therapeutic targets for the treatment of tumors.

Potential topics will include but are not limited to:

Epigenetic modifications as early events of neoplastic transformation;

Epigenetic regulation of oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes;

ncRNA (miRNAs, lncRNAs and circRNAs) as tumor biomarkers;

DNA methylation hotspots in tumor biology;

ncRNAs in tumor biology;

ncRNAs and DNA methylation hotspots as therapeutic targets;

Epigenetic factors as indicators of therapeutic efficacy;

Liquid biopsies and epigenetic circulating biomarkers for the management of cancer patients;

Epigenetic biomarkers for the prediction of the therapeutic response and drug resistance.

Dr. Luca Falzone
Dr. Saverio Candido
Dr. Caterina Maria Grillo
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Biology is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • microRNA
  • DNA methylation
  • ncRNAs
  • epigenetics
  • digestive tract
  • oral cancer
  • gastrointestinal cancer
  • biomarkers
  • diagnosis
  • prognosis
  • therapy

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Droplet Digital PCR Analysis of Liquid Biopsy Samples Unveils the Diagnostic Role of hsa-miR-133a-3p and hsa-miR-375-3p in Oral Cancer
Biology 2020, 9(11), 379; https://doi.org/10.3390/biology9110379 - 06 Nov 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 547
Despite the availability of screening programs, oral cancer deaths are increasing due to the lack of diagnostic biomarkers leading to late diagnosis and a poor prognosis. Therefore, there is an urgent need to discover novel effective biomarkers for this tumor. On these bases, [...] Read more.
Despite the availability of screening programs, oral cancer deaths are increasing due to the lack of diagnostic biomarkers leading to late diagnosis and a poor prognosis. Therefore, there is an urgent need to discover novel effective biomarkers for this tumor. On these bases, the aim of this study was to validate the diagnostic potential of microRNAs (miRNAs) through the analysis of liquid biopsy samples obtained from ten oral cancer patients and ten healthy controls. The expression of four selected miRNAs was evaluated by using droplet digital PCR (ddPCR) in a pilot cohort of ten oral cancer patients and ten healthy donors. Bioinformatics analyses were performed to assess the functional role of these miRNAs. The expression levels of the predicted down-regulated hsa-miR-133a-3p and hsa-miR-375-3p were significantly reduced in oral cancer patients compared to normal individuals while no significant results were obtained for the up-regulated hsa-miR-503-5p and hsa-miR-196a-5p. ROC analysis confirmed the high sensitivity and specificity of hsa-miR-375-3p and hsa-miR-133a-3p. Therefore, both miRNAs are significantly down-regulated in cancer patients and can be used as biomarkers for the early diagnosis of oral cancer. The analysis of circulating miRNAs in a larger series of patients is mandatory to confirm the results obtained in this pilot study. Full article
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