Plasma metabolomic profiles in liver cancer patients following stereotactic body radiotherapy

Sylvia S.W. Ng, Gun Ho Jang, Irwin J. Kurland, Yunping Qiu, Chandan Guha, Laura A. Dawson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background: Stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) is an effective treatment for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). This study sought to identify differentially expressed plasma metabolites in HCC patients at baseline and early during SBRT, and to explore if changes in these metabolites early during SBRT may serve as biomarkers for radiation-induced liver injury and/or tumour response. Methods: Forty-seven HCC patients were treated with SBRT on previously published prospective trials. Plasma samples were collected at baseline and after one to two fractions of SBRT, and analysed by GC/MS and LC/MS for untargeted and targeted metabolomics profiling, respectively. Findings: Sixty-nine metabolites at baseline and 62 metabolites after one to two fractions of SBRT were differentially expressed, and strongly separated the Child Pugh (CP) B from the CP A HCC patients. These metabolites are associated with oxidative stress and alterations in hepatic cellular metabolism. Differential upregulation of serine, alanine, taurine, and lipid metabolites early during SBRT from baseline was noted in the HCC patients who demonstrated the greatest increase in CP scores at three months post SBRT, suggesting that high protein and lipid turnover early during SBRT may portend increased clinical liver toxicity. Twenty annotated metabolites including fatty acids, glycerophospholipids, and acylcarnitines were differentially upregulated early during SBRT from baseline and separated patients with complete/partial response from those with stable disease at three months post SBRT. Interpretation: Dysregulation of amino acid and lipid metabolism detected early during SBRT are associated with subsequent clinical liver injury and tumour response in HCC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102973
StatePublished - Sep 2020


  • Biomarkers
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma, Stereotactic body radiotherapy
  • Metabolomics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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