A Review of Physical Activity and Circulating miRNA Expression: Implications in Cancer Risk and Progression Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Abstract The role of circulating miRNAs (c-miRNAs) in carcinogenesis has garnered considerable scientific interest. miRNAs may contribute actively to cancer development and progression, making them potential targets for cancer prevention and therapy. Lifestyle factors such as physical activity (PA) have been shown to alter c-miRNA expression, but the subsequent impact on cancer risk and prognosis is unknown. To provide a better understanding of how PA reduces the risk of cancer incidence and improves patient outcomes, we conducted a review of the impact of PA on c-miRNA expression, which includes a comprehensive synthesis of studies examining the impacts of acute and chronic exercise on expression of c-miRNAs. While the variability in methods used to assess miRNA expression creates challenges in comparing and/or synthesizing the literature, results to date suggest that the circulating form of several miRNAs known for playing a role in cancer (c-miR-133, c-miR-221/222, c-miR-126, and c-let-7) are altered by both acute and chronic PA. Additional research should develop standardized procedures for assessing both c-miRNA and PA measurement to improve the comparability of research results regarding the direction and amplitude of changes in c-miRNAs in response to PA. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev; 27(1); 11–24. ©2017 AACR.


  • Dufresne, Suzanne
  • Rébillard, Amélie
  • Muti, Paola
  • Friedenreich, Christine M
  • Brenner, Darren R

publication date

  • January 1, 2018