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Oncotarget. 2017 Dec 13;9(4):5032-5043. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.23494. eCollection 2018 Jan 12.

Comparison of hepatic and serum lipid signatures in hepatocellular carcinoma patients leads to the discovery of diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers.

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Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, National University of Singapore, Singapore.
Institute of Nutrition and Health, Qingdao University, Qingdao, Shandong, China.
School of Marine Science, Ningbo University, Ningbo, Zhejiang, China.
Department of Infectious Diseases and Hepatology of Huashan Hospital, Fudan University, Shanghai, China.
School of Pharmacy, Second Military Medical University, Shanghai, China.
NUS Environmental Research Institute, National University of Singapore, Singapore.
Contributed equally


We compared hepatic and serum lipid changes in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients to have a better understanding of the molecular pathogenesis of this disease and discovery novel lipid biomarkers. Hepatic and serum lipid profiling was conducted in paired liver and serum samples from 50 HCC patients and 24 healthy controls. A total of 20 hepatic and 40 serum lipid signatures were identified, yet there was hardly any significant correlation between them. The results indicated that triglycerides and phosphatidylcholines contributed significantly to altered hepatic lipids, whereas triglycerides and phosphatidylethanolamine-based plasmalogens (PEp) contributed most to altered serum lipids. In serum, PEp (36:4) and (40:6) showed a fair capability to discriminate HCC patients from healthy controls, and were significantly associated with HCC tumor grades (p < 0.05), and thus were identified as potential diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers of HCC. These findings were confirmed by a validation study conducted in an independent cohort consisting of 18 HCC, 20 cirrhosis patients, and 20 healthy controls. This study suggests that hepatic and serum lipid signatures of HCC have to be considered as mostly independent, and the results imply potential roles of PEp species, particularly PEp (36:4) and (40:6), as serum biomarkers for HCC diagnosis and progression.


hepatocellular carcinoma; lipidomics; liver tissue; mass spectrometry; serum

Conflict of interest statement

CONFLICTS OF INTEREST The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.

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