Lipid profiling in malignant mesothelioma reveals promising signatures for diagnosis and prognosis: A plasma-based LC-MS lipidomics study

Clinica Chimica Acta 2022 January 1 [Link]

Zhongjian Chen, Siyu Song, Chenxi Yang, Ziyi Dai, Yun Gao, Na Li, Jing Zhu, Weimin Mao, Junping Liu


Background and aim: Malignant mesothelioma (MM), being a rare and aggressive carcinoma, can barely be cured. Incidence of this cancer will keep climbing up in the next few decades since its major carcinogen, asbestos, is still in use in many countries. Unfortunately, prognosis of MM is unsatisfactory principally due to poor early diagnosis as a result of its long latency period and ambiguous symptoms. Lipids are known to contribute to cellular structure, signaling, and energy storage, and are widely reported to be related with tumorigenesis. Therefore, we aim to discover novel lipid biomarkers by plasma-based lipidomics that may improve MM diagnosis.

Methods: Plasma samples from 25 MM patients and 32 healthy controls (HCs) were collected and analysed using a high-throughput liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS). Univariate and multivariate analyses were subsequently performed to visualize the separation trend between two groups and to screen for differential feature ions. Ions were annotated using LipidSearch 4.2 and their enriched pathways were detected on LIPEA. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves were used for analysing each annotated lipid’s diagnostic value. Survival analyses were performed to investigate each lipid’s prognostic value.

Results: In supervised partial least squares discriminant analysis (PLS-DA), clear separation between MM and HC groups was observed. A total of 34 differential lipids were annotated, among which 5 upregulated and 29 downregulated. Levels of plasma triacylglycerols (TGs) were higher in smoking versus non-smoking patients, and lower in female versus male patients. The top six lipids possessing highest diagnostic value included two phosphatidylethanolamines (PEs), two phosphatidylcholines (PCs) and two ceramides. Moreover, elevated circulating TG levels were associated with poorer survival, whereas increased monohexosylceramide (Hex1Cer) might be beneficial.

Conclusions: Our study revealed differentially expressed lipid patterns in MM compared to HC. PC, PE, and ceramides showed outstanding diagnostic performance, while TG and Hex1Cer exhibited significant prognostic values. Nevertheless, more studies should verify these trends as well as further investigating on underlying mechanisms.