Mass spectrometry-based quantitative metabolomics revealed a distinct lipid profile in breast cancer patients

Yunping Qiu, Bingsen Zhou, Mingming Su, Sarah Baxter, Xiaojiao Zheng, Xueqing Zhao, Yun Yen, Wei Jia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


Breast cancer accounts for the largest number of newly diagnosed cases in female cancer patients. Although mammography is a powerful screening tool, about 20% of breast cancer cases cannot be detected by this method. New diagnostic biomarkers for breast cancer are necessary. Here, we used a mass spectrometry-based quantitative metabolomics method to analyze plasma samples from 55 breast cancer patients and 25 healthy controls. A number of 30 patients and 20 age-matched healthy controls were used as a training dataset to establish a diagnostic model and to identify potential biomarkers. The remaining samples were used as a validation dataset to evaluate the predictive accuracy for the established model. Distinct separation was obtained from an orthogonal partial least squares-discriminant analysis (OPLS-DA) model with good prediction accuracy. Based on this analysis, 39 differentiating metabolites were identified, including significantly lower levels of lysophosphatidylcholines and higher levels of sphingomyelins in the plasma samples obtained from breast cancer patients compared with healthy controls. Using logical regression, a diagnostic equation based on three metabolites (lysoPC a C16:0, PC ae C42:5 and PC aa C34:2) successfully differentiated breast cancer patients from healthy controls, with a sensitivity of 98.1% and a specificity of 96.0%.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8047-8061
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Breast cancer
  • Lipids
  • Metabolomics/metabonomics
  • Plasma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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