1. Institute for Translational Medicine, The Affiliated Hospital of Qingdao University, College of Medicine, Qingdao University, Deng Zhou Road 38, Qingdao 266021, China.
2. Department of Cardiology, The Affiliated Hospital of Qingdao University, Qingdao, China. Institute for Translational Medicine, Qingdao University, Qingdao, China.
Thyroid cancer (TC) is one of the most common malignant tumors, with high morbidity and mortality rates worldwide. The incidence of TC, especially that of papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC); has increased rapidly in recent decades. Autoimmune thyroid disease (AITD) is closely related to TC and has an estimated prevalence of 5%. Thus, it is becoming increasingly important to identify potential diagnostic biomarkers and therapeutic targets for TC and AITD. Circular RNAs (circRNAs) are a class of non-coding RNAs with covalently bonded circular structures that lack 5'-3' polarity and polyadenylated tails. Several circRNAs play crucial roles in the development of various diseases, including TC and AITD, and could be important new biomarkers and/or targets for the diagnosis and therapy of such disorders. Although there are four subtypes of TC, research on circRNA has largely focused on its connection to PTC. Therefore, this review mainly summarizes the relationships between circRNAs and PTC and AITD, including the molecular mechanisms underlying these relationships. In particular, the functions of “miRNA sponges” and their interactions with proteins and RNA are discussed. The possible targeting of circRNAs for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of TC and AITD is also described. CircRNAs could be potential biomarkers of TC and AITD, although validation will be required before they can be implemented in clinical practice.
Keywords: circular RNA, thyroid cancer, autoimmune thyroid diseases, biomarker, therapeutic target