Researchers discovered that a number of factors were associated with cholangiocarcinoma, such as the underexpression of microRNAs (miRNAs) and tumor suppressors, the overexpression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), smoking, and aging. The findings were published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention.

Cholangiocarcinomas account for around 10% to 15% of hepatobiliary tumors. They tend to be classified according to their anatomical position: intrahepatic, perihilar, or distal. 

Much about the etiology of cholangiocarcinoma is unknown. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy have a limited impact on patient survival rates. This means that care for patients with cholangiocarcinoma tends to be palliative instead of curative. For about 20% to 30% of patients, tumor resection remains a treatment possibility.

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“Nevertheless, lifestyle habits, comorbidities, and aging reduce the efficacy of this treatment,” the authors of the study wrote. 

Read more about cholangiocarcinoma etiology 

Studies have suggested that some miRNAs function as oncogenes or tumor suppressors and influence various biological processes. Hence, identifying molecular alterations in miRNAs, as well as candidate genes for cholangiocarcinoma biomarkers, may help clarify the molecular mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of cholangiocarcinoma. 

“In this context, miR-145 stands out acting directly on VEGF function. In addition, it is overexpressed in biliary tumors, suggesting its performance as a tumor suppressor,” the authors of the study wrote. 

The authors sought primarily to evaluate the expressions of VEGF and miRNAs involved in oncogenesis in cholangiocarcinoma. They recruited 41 patients with cholangiocarcinoma; these patients had tumor tissue samples collected between 2006 and 2020. 

Participants who were selected for this study had their total RNA extracted from paraffin-embedded tissue samples. The research team then performed reverse transcription of miRNAs and obtained complementary DNA for VEGF analysis using the reverse transcriptase primers kit. 

“In this study, the under-expression of miR-145-3p and miR-101-3p, tumor suppressors, and the overexpression of VEGF, an important angiogenic factor, were associated with the risk of developing [cholangiocarcinoma],” the authors concluded. “In addition, according to our findings, smoking and aging increased the risk of [cholangiocarcinoma].” 


Calastri MCJ, Ferreira RF, Tenani GD, et al. Investigating VEGF, miR-145-3p, and miR-101-3p expression in patients with cholangiocarcinomaAsian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2022;23(7):2233-2241. doi:10.31557/APJCP.2022.23.7.2233