Circular RNAs: a new class of biomarkers as a rising interest in laboratory medicine


  • A. Franz
  • A. Rabien
  • C. Stephan
  • B. Ralla
  • S. Fuchs
  • K. Jung
  • A. Fendler


  • Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine


  • Clin Chem Lab Med 56 (12): 1992-2003


  • Circular RNAs (circRNAs) are a distinct family of RNAs derived from the non-regular process of alternative splicing. CircRNAs have recently gained interest in transcriptome research due to their potential regulatory functions during gene expression. CircRNAs can act as microRNA sponges and affect transcription through their complex involvement in regular transcriptional processes. Some early studies also suggested significant roles for circRNAs in human diseases, especially cancer, as biomarkers and potential clinical targets. Therefore, there is a great need for laboratory scientists to translate these findings into clinical tools to advance testing for human diseases. To facilitate a better understanding of the promise of circRNAs, we focus this review on selected basic aspects of circRNA research, specifically biogenesis, function, analytical issues regarding identification and validation and examples of expression data in relation to human diseases. We further emphasize the unique challenges facing laboratory medicine with regard to circRNA research, particularly in the development of robust assays for circRNA detection in different body fluids and the need to collaborate with clinicians in the design of clinical studies.