Background: Melanoma is the most aggressive and deadly form of skin cancer. The molecular variability involving microRNA (miRNA) expression plays a significant role in melanogenesis, which leads to poor prognostic effects in melanoma. Since there is a scarcity of comprehensive data on the prognostic role of miRNAs in melanoma patients, this study focuses on filling this knowledge gap through a systematic review and meta-analysis.
Methods: The included studies were extracted from several bibliographic databases between 2012 and 2018 using multiple keywords according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) guidelines. The hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for different survival endpoints were compared to the high and low expression levels of miRNAs. The mean effect size of HR values was estimated using a random-effects model of meta-analysis. Inverted funnel plot symmetry was used to assess publication bias. Subgroup analysis was carried out individually for multiple miRNAs across different studies.
Results: A total of 24 studies across eight countries were included, of which 16 studies were eligible for meta-analysis. Twenty-five miRNA expression levels were studied from 2669 melanoma patients to estimate the association between the prognostic role of miRNAs and survival outcome in these 16 studies. The overall pooled effect size (HR) for up- and downregulated miRNAs was 1.043 (95% CI 0.921–1.181; p = 0.506), indicating that the miRNA expression increased the likelihood of death in melanoma patients by 4.3%. Subgroup analysis for miRNA10b, miRNA16 and miRNA21 showed a poor prognosis. The quality assessment revealed that 16 studies were good quality and eight studies were of fair quality.
Conclusion: This is one of the first pooled meta-analysis studies on the role of miRNAs in the prognosis of melanoma. Our findings are inconclusive but suggest that miRNA expression could predict poor survival in melanoma patients. Therefore, miRNA expression could act as promising prognostic marker for melanoma.