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Biomark Med. 2011 Aug;5(4):451-60. doi: 10.2217/bmm.11.41.

Serum fatty acid profiling of colorectal cancer by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry.

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Division of Gastroenterology, Kobe University Graduate School of Medicine, 7-5-1 Kusunoki-Cho, Chu-o-ku, Kobe, Hyogo, Japan.



Several screening methods have been applied for the early diagnosis of colorectal cancer, but most colorectal cancer patients are not diagnosed at a localized stage. In order to find novel biomarkers for the diagnosis of colorectal cancer, profiling of the serum levels of fatty acids, which are the main components of fats and are important factors for human metabolism, was performed using the sera of colorectal cancer patients.


A total of 42 colorectal cancer patients and eight healthy volunteers participated in this study. The serum levels of fatty acids, including free fatty acids and esterified fatty acids, were evaluated by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. Then, partial least squares discriminant analysis was performed on the basis of the serum fatty acids detected by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry.


The serum levels of the nine fatty acids exhibited distinct differences between the colorectal cancer patients and healthy volunteers: the levels of four fatty acids were higher in the colorectal cancer patients than the healthy volunteers, and those of the other five fatty acids were lower. These changes were also observed at a very early clinical stage. Furthermore, the levels of very-long-chain fatty acids had a tendency to be increased in the sera of the colorectal cancer patients.


The pathogenesis of colorectal cancer leads to changes in the composition of serum fatty acids including free fatty acids and esterified fatty acids. These results suggest that serum fatty acid profiling may be used as a novel diagnostic tool for early-stage colorectal cancer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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