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Mol Clin Oncol. 2019 Jul;11(1):3-14. doi: 10.3892/mco.2019.1853. Epub 2019 May 8.

Global serum metabolomics profiling of colorectal cancer.

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Faculty of Medicine, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Cawangan Selangor, Sungai Buloh, Selangor 47000, Malaysia.


Accurate diagnosis of colorectal cancer (CRC) relies on the use of invasive tools such as colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy. Non-invasive tools are less sensitive in detecting the disease, particularly in the early stage. A number of researchers have used metabolomics analyses on serum/plasma samples of patients with CRC compared with normal healthy individuals in an effort to identify biomarkers for CRC. The aim of the present review is to compare reported serum metabolomics profiles of CRC and to identify common metabolites affected among these studies. A literature search was performed to include any experimental studies on global metabolomics profile of CRC using serum/plasma samples published up to March 2018. The Quality Assessment of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies (QUADAS) tool was used to assess the quality of the studies reviewed. In total, nine studies were included. The studies used various analytical platforms and were performed on different populations. A pathway enrichment analysis was performed using the data from all the studies under review. The most affected pathways identified were protein biosynthesis, urea cycle, ammonia recycling, alanine metabolism, glutathione metabolism and citric acid cycle. The metabolomics analysis revealed levels of metabolites of glycolysis, tricarboxylic acid cycle, anaerobic respiration, protein, lipid and glutathione metabolism were significantly different between cancer and control samples. Although the majority of differentiating metabolites identified were different in the different studies, there were several metabolites that were common. These metabolites include pyruvic acid, glucose, lactic acid, malic acid, fumaric acid, 3-hydroxybutyric acid, tryptophan, phenylalanine, tyrosine, creatinine and ornithine. The consistent dysregulation of these metabolites among the different studies suggest the possibility of common diagnostic biomarkers for CRC.


biomarkers; colorectal cancer; metabolomics; pathways; serum

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