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Background: Recent reports suggested that circulating exosomal microRNAs (exomiRs) may serve as non-invasive prediction biomarkers in gastrointestinal (GI) cancers, yet their clinicopathological and prognostic values need to be more clarified. Hence, the present meta-analysis was aimed to quantitatively assess the evidence regarding the association between circulating exomiRs and prognosis in GI cancer patients. Methods: A comprehensive search was carried out in prominent literature databases, including PubMed, ISI Web of Science, Scopus, and Embase. Odds ratios (ORs) or hazard ratios (HRs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were gathered to evaluate the strength of the association. The quality assessment was investigated through the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale (NOS) and publication bias via Eggers’ test and funnel plots. Results: A total of 47 studies, comprising of 4881 patients, were considered eligible for this meta-analysis. Both up-regulated and down-regulated circulating exomiRs are significantly associated with differentiation (HR = 1.353, P = 0.015; HR = 1.504, P = 0.016), TNM stage (HR = 2.058, P < 0.001; HR = 2.745, P < 0.001), lymph node metastasis (HR = 1.527, P = 0.004; HR = 2.009, P = 0.002), distant metastasis (HR = 2.006, P < 0.001; HR = 2.799, P = 0.002), worse overall survival (OS) (HR = 2.053, P < 0.001; HR = 1.789, P = 0.001) and poorer disease/relapse/progression-free survival (DFS/RFS/PFS) (HR = 2.086, P < 0.001; HR = 1.607, P = 0.001) in GI cancer patients, respectively. In addition, subgroup analyses based on seven subcategories indicated the robustness of the association. The majority of findings were lack of publication bias except for the association between up-regulated exomiRs and OS or DFS/RFS/PFS and for the down-regulated exomiRs and TNM stage. Conclusion: This study supports that up- and down-regulated circulating exomiRs are associated with poorer survival outcomes and could be served as potential prognostic biomarkers in GI cancers. Given the limitations of the current findings, such as significant heterogeneity, more investigations are needed to fully clarify the exomiRs prognostic role.

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Journal article


Cancer Cell International

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