Accurate primary germ cell cancer diagnosis using serum based microRNA detection (ampTSmiR test)

Ton van Agthoven, Leendert H J Looijenga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Citations (Scopus)


Multiple studies, including various methods and overall limited numbers of mostly heterogeneous cases, indicate that the level of embryonic stem cell microRNAs (miRs) (e.g. 371a-3p, 372-3p, 373-3p, and 367-3p) are increased in serum at primary diagnosis of almost all testicular germ cell cancer (TGCC). Here we determine the status of three of these miRs in serum samples of 250 TGCC patients, collected at time of primary diagnosis, compared with 60 non-TGCC patients and 104 male healthy donors. The levels of miRs were measured by the robust ampTSmiR test, including magnetic bead-based miR isolation and target specific pre-amplification followed by real-time quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) detection. Calibration is performed based on the non-human spike-in ath-miR-159a, and normalization on the endogenous control miR-30b-5p. The serum levels of miR-371a-3p, 373-3p, and 367-3p are informative to accurately detect TGCC patients, both seminomas and non-seminomas, at the time of primary diagnosis (p< 0.000). Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) analysis demonstrate that the Area Under the Curve (AUC) for miR-371a-3p is 0.951 (being 0.888 for miR-373-3p and 0.861 for miR-367-3p), with a sensitivity of 90%, and a specificity of 86% (positive predictive value of 94% and negative predictive value of 79%). Inclusion of miR-373-3p and 367-3p resulted in a AUC of 0.962, with a 90% sensitivity and 91% specificity. Similar results were obtained using the raw Ct data. Importantly, the results demonstrate that ampTSmiR is not suitable to detect pure teratoma as well as the precursor of TGCC, i.e., Germ Cell Neoplasia In Situ (GCNIS). The largest series evaluated so far, demonstrate that detection of the embryonic stem cell miR-371a-3p, 373-3p and 367-3p is highly informative to diagnose patients with a primary TGCC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58037-58049
Number of pages13
Issue number35
Publication statusPublished - 29 Aug 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • MiR-371a-3p/373-3p/367-3p
  • MicroRNA
  • RT-qPCR
  • Serum biomarker
  • Testicular germ cell cancer


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