Application of metabolomics by UHPLC-MS/MS in diagnostics and biomarker discovery of non-small cell lung cancer

Yuting Liu, Jingjing Wu, Kai Zhang, Qifan Yang, Jinsong Yang, Rubo Cao, Feifei Gu, Jinyan Liang, Yangyang Liu, Yue Hu, Xiaohua Hong, Yulan Zeng, Zhuyan Zheng, Li Liu


Background: Targeted metabolomics was utilized in case studies of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) to develop and test metabolite classifiers in serum as potential biomarkers for new lung cancer diagnostic strategies, cancer staging, and subtype determination in the Chinese population.
Methods: A total of 77 samples, including 45 NSCLC patients from stage I to IV, and 32 healthy controls were included in this study. After serum extraction, metabolic assays based on a wide range of targeted metabolome technologies and the UPLC-MS-MS detection platform were performed to detect metabolites in them. Custom database and multivariate statistical analysis were utilized to evaluate the difference of metabolome between different arms.
Results: A total of 296 metabolites were detected in all samples, of which 81 were found differentially expressed among lung cancer patients and controls. While the principal component analysis indicated that the metabolome analysis is clearly powerful in differentiating lung cancer patients from normal controls, no significant differences in the serum metabolites between different lung cancer stages or between adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma were observed.
Conclusions: This study showed the power of the novel UPLC-MS/MS platform in serum metabolic profiling for the detection of NSCLC, which might provide new potential tumor biomarkers and can accelerate the development of new diagnostic strategies in NSCLC.