Both pathogenesis and detection of liver fibrosis and early cirrhosis are elusive. Our study focused on role of microRNAs (miRNAs) as predictive biomarkers of liver fibrosis and early cirrhosis. Methods: We recruited patients with chronic hepatitis B background and divided them into three subgroups according to the pathological staging results: no liver fibrosis group (CHB 11, 12.0%), liver fibrosis group but without liver cirrhosis (LF 41, 44.6%), and early liver cirrhosis group (LC 40, 43.4%). Results: Levels of miR-122 in the CHB and LF group were significantly elevated compared with the LC group. Meanwhile, upregulation levels of miR-146a-5p, miR-29c-3p, miR-223 were seen in the CHB group versus LC. MiR-122-5p was best able to differentiate between patients with LC and without LC (area under the curve (AUC) 0.734). It can also distinguish patients with LF from those without LF (AUC 0.681). Panel including miR-122-5p miR-29c-3p and miR-381-3p resulted in an AUC of 0.700 in detection of LF. Meanwhile panel including miR-122-5p, miR-29c-3p, MiR-223 turned out to be good predictors, resulted in an AUC of 0.752 to discriminate LC in HBV-associated disease. HBV load, ALT and AST showed significant positive correlation with miR-122-5p and miR-381-3p. Conclusions: Our study explored changes of plasm miRNA levels in HBV-associated disease patients, constructed diagnostic miRNAs panel to predict liver fibrosis and early cirrhosis. Meanwhile In the process of liver fibrosis and cirrhosis, there are involving not only common pathway molecules, but also its specific pathway molecules.
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