Journal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology

, Volume 145, Issue 12, pp 2875–2889 | Cite as

Circular RNAs: pivotal molecular regulators and novel diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers in non-small cell lung cancer

  • Chunyan Li
  • Lin Zhang
  • Guangping Meng
  • Qi Wang
  • Xuejiao Lv
  • Jie ZhangEmail author
  • Junyao LiEmail author
Review – Cancer Research



Circular RNAs (circRNAs), a large class of non-coding RNAs with covalently closed-loop structures, are abundant, stable, conserved, and have tissue and developmental-stage specificities. The biological functions of circRNAs are varied. Moreover, circRNAs participate in various pathological processes, especially in multiple cancers. Lung cancer is the most frequent malignant tumor worldwide. Many studies have suggested that circRNAs are pivotal in non-small cell lung cancer. This article aims to provide a retrospective review of the latest research on the functions of circRNAs in non-small cell lung cancer. In particular, we focus our discussion on the role of circRNAs in cell-cycle regulation and the epithelial–mesenchymal transition, and also discuss the known regulatory molecular mechanisms of circRNAs in non-small cell lung cancer.


We reviewed the literature on circRNAs and non-small cell lung cancer from PubMed databases. Specifically, we focused on the roles and mechanisms of circRNAs in regulating the cell cycle and the epithelial–mesenchymal transition.


Dysregulation of circRNAs is closely correlated with proliferation, migration, and invasion of non-small cell lung cancer, especially in terms of modulating cell-cycle regulation and the epithelial–mesenchymal transition.


Taken together, circRNAs have potential as biomarkers for the diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of non-small cell lung cancer.


Circular RNAs Non-small cell lung cancer Biomarker Cell cycle Epithelial–mesenchymal transition 



All of the data generated or analyzed during this study are included in this published article.

Author contributions

JZ and JL contributed to the conception of the study. LZ, GM, QW, and XL contributed significantly to the analysis of data and preparation of the manuscript. CL performed data analyses and wrote the manuscript. All of the authors read and approved the final manuscript.


Funding was provided by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant no. 81672297).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Respiratory MedicineThe Second Hospital of Jilin UniversityChangchunPeople’s Republic of China

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