miRNA expression profiles of premalignant and malignant arsenic-induced skin lesions.


Arsenic, a naturally occurring element, contaminates the drinking water of over 200 million people globally. Chronic arsenic exposure causes multiple cancers including those originating from skin, lung and bladder, and is associated with liver, kidney, and prostate cancers. Skin is the primary target organ for arsenic toxicity; chronic toxicity initially manifests as non-malignant hyperkeratoses (HK) and subsequently advances to malignant lesions, including squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and basal cell carcinoma (BCC). In this study, we evaluate the miRNA expression profiles of premalignant (3 HK) and malignant (3 BCC and 3 SCC) skin lesions from individuals chronically exposed to high levels of arsenic (59-172 ppb) in their drinking water in West Bengal, India. The lesions were histologically complex requiring histopathologic identification of keratinocytes to be isolated for RNA analyses. Keratinocytes were harvested using Laser Capture Microdissection and miRNA expression profiles were determined using TaqMan® Array Human MiRNA A Card v2.0. Thirty-five miRNAs were differentially expressed among the three lesion types analyzed. Two miRNAs (miR-425-5p and miR-433) were induced in both BCC and SCC relative to HK indicating their association with malignancy. Two other miRNAs (miR-184 and miR-576-3p) were induced in SCC relative to both BCC and HK suggesting selective induction in tumors capable of metastasis. Six miRNAs (miR-29c, miR-381, miR-452, miR-487b, miR-494 and miR-590-5p) were selectively suppressed in BCC relative to both SCC and HK. In conclusion, the differential miRNA expression was both phenotype- and stage-related. These miRNAs are potential biomarkers and may serve as therapy targets for arsenic-induced internal tumors.