Metabolomic profile in pancreatic cancer patients: A consensusbased approach to identify highly discriminating metabolites

Iole Maria Di Gangi, Tommaso Mazza, Andrea Fontana, Massimiliano Copetti, Caterina Fusilli, Antonio Ippolito, Fulvio Mattivi, Anna Latiano, Angelo Andriulli, Urska Vrhovsek, Valerio Pazienza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: pancreatic adenocarcinoma is the fourth leading cause of cancer related deaths due to its aggressive behavior and poor clinical outcome. There is a considerable variability in the frequency of serum tumor markers in cancer' patients. We performed a metabolomics screening in patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Experimental Design: Two targeted metabolomic assays were conducted on 40 serum samples of patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and 40 healthy controls. Multivariate methods and classification trees were performed. Materials and Methods: Sparse partial least squares discriminant analysis (SPLS-DA) was used to reduce the high dimensionality of a pancreatic cancer metabolomic dataset, differentiating between pancreatic cancer (PC) patients and healthy subjects. Using Random Forest analysis palmitic acid, 1,2-dioleoylsn- glycero-3-phospho-rac-glycerol, lanosterol, lignoceric acid, 1-monooleoylrac- glycerol, cholesterol 5',6' epoxide, erucic acid and taurolithocholic acid (T-LCA), oleoyl-L-carnitine, oleanolic acid were identified among 206 metabolites as highly discriminating between disease states. Comparison between Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) curves for palmitic acid and CA 19-9 showed that the area under the ROC curve (AUC) of palmitic acid (AUC=1.000; 95% confidence interval) is significantly higher than CA 19-9 (AUC=0.963; 95% confidence interval: 0.896-1.000). Conclusion: Mass spectrometry-based metabolomic profiling of sera from pancreatic cancer patients and normal subjects showed significant alterations in the profiles of the metabolome of PC patients as compared to controls. These findings offer an information-rich matrix for discovering novel candidate biomarkers with diagnostic or prognostic potentials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5815-5829
Number of pages15
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Metabolomic
  • Pancreatic cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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