Micrornas and their role in the malignant transformation of oral leukoplakia: A scoping review

Sven Niklander, Daniela Guerra, Felipe Contreras, Wilfredo González-Arriagada, Constanza Marín*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: MiRNAs are small non-coding RNAs that regulate gene expression at the post-transcriptional level and have been associated with malignant transformation of oral epithelial precursor lesions such as oral leukoplakia. The aim was to perform a scoping review of the contemporary literature about the different roles of miRNAs during the malignant transformation of oral leukoplakia. Material and Methods: We conducted a systematic search with the following MeSH terms: ‘oral leukoplakia’, ‘carcinoma in situ’, ‘microRNAs’, ‘mouth neoplasms’ and ‘epithelial–mesenchymal transition’ in PubMed/MEDLINE, EMBASE and SpringerLink. Results: Fifteen articles were included for analysis, among which in vivo and in vitro articles were included. A total of 21 different miRNAs were found to be involved in the malignant transformation process of oral leukoplakia. Regarding their possible effects, 6 miRNAs were classified as oncogenic, 5 as tumour suppressors and 10 were related to epithelial–mesenchymal transition, invasion and migration. Conclusions: Based on the current review, we concluded that miRNAs-21, 345, 181-b and 31* seem to be potential markers of malignant transformation of oral leukoplakia. However, further clinical prospective studies are needed in order to validate their utility as prognostic biomarkers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number24975
Pages (from-to)e77-e84
JournalMedicina Oral Patologia Oral y Cirugia Bucal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research received financial support from Andres Bello University grant UNAB-DI-02-19/CB.

Publisher Copyright:
© Medicina Oral S. L. C.I.F.


  • Biomarkers
  • Malignant transformation
  • MiRNAs
  • Oral leukoplakia
  • Oral squamous cell carcinoma


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