Background and Objective: Accurately evaluating the severity of liver cirrhosis is essential
for clinical decision making and disease management. This study aimed to evaluate the value of circulating
levels of microRNA (miR)-26a and miR-21 as novel noninvasive biomarkers in detecting severity
of cirrhosis in patients with chronic hepatitis B.
Methods: Thirty patients with clinically diagnosed chronic hepatitis B-related cirrhosis and 30 healthy
individuals were selected. The serum levels of miR-26a and miR-21 were quantified by qRT-PCR.
Receiver operating characteristic curve analysis was performed to evaluate the sensitivity and specificity
of the miRNAs for detecting the severity of cirrhosis.
Results: Serum miR-26a and miR-21 levels were found to be significantly downregulated in patients
with severe cirrhosis scored at Child-Pugh class C in comparison to healthy controls (miR-26a p<0.01,
and miR-21 p<0.001, respectively). The circulating miR-26a and miR-21 levels in patients were positively
correlated with serum albumin concentration but negatively correlated with serum total bilirubin
concentration and prothrombin time. Receiver operating characteristic curve analysis revealed that
both serum miR-26a and miR-21 levels were associated with a high diagnostic accuracy for patients
with cirrhosis scored at Child-Pugh class C (miR-26a Cut-off fold change at ≤0.4, Sensitivity: 84.62%,
Specificity: 89.36%, P<0.0001; miR-21 Cut-off fold change at ≤0.6, Sensitivity: 84.62%, Specificity:
Conclusion: Our results indicate that the circulating levels of miR-26a and miR-21 are closely related
to the extent of liver decompensation, and the decreased levels are capable of discriminating patients
with cirrhosis at Child-Pugh class C from the whole cirrhosis cases.