Field effect in cancer, also called "field cancerization", attempts to explain the development of multiple primary tumors and locally recurrent cancer. The concept of field effect in cancer has been reinforced, since molecular alterations were found in tumor-adjacent tissues with normal histopatho-logical appearances. With the aim of investigating field effects in gastric cancer (GC), we conducted a high-throughput sequencing of the miRnome of four GC samples and their respective tumor-adjacent tissues and compared them with the miRnome of a gastric antrum sample from patients without GC, assuming that tumor-adjacent tissues could not be considered as normal tissues. The global number of miRNAs and read counts was highest in tumor samples, followed by tumor-adjacent and normal samples. Analyzing the miRNA expression profile of tumor-adjacent miRNA, hsa-miR-3131, hsa-miR-664, hsa-miR-483, and hsa-miR-150 were significantly downregulated compared with the antrum without tumor tissue (P-value < 0.01; fold-change <5). Additionally, hsa-miR-3131, hsa-miR-664, and hsa-miR-150 were downregulated (P-value < 0.001) in all paired samples of tumor and tumor-adjacent tissues, compared with antrum without tumor mucosa. The field effect was clearly demonstrated in gastric carcinogenesis by an epigenetics-based approach, and potential biomarkers of the GC field effect were identified. The elevated expression of miRNAs in adjacent tissues and tumors tissues may indicate that a cascade of events takes place during gastric carcinogenesis, reinforcing the notion of field effects. This phenomenon seems to be linked to DNA methylation patterns in cancer and suggests the involvement of an epigenetic network mechanism.


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