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Metabolomics. 2012 Aug;8(4):643-653. Epub 2011 Sep 16.

Serum amino acid profiles and their alterations in colorectal cancer.


Mass spectrometry-based serum metabolic profiling is a promising tool to analyse complex cancer associated metabolic alterations, which may broaden our pathophysiological understanding of the disease and may function as a source of new cancer-associated biomarkers. Highly standardized serum samples of patients suffering from colon cancer (n = 59) and controls (n = 58) were collected at the University Hospital Leipzig. We based our investigations on amino acid screening profiles using electrospray tandem-mass spectrometry. Metabolic profiles were evaluated using the Analyst 1.4.2 software. General, comparative and equivalence statistics were performed by R 2.12.2. 11 out of 26 serum amino acid concentrations were significantly different between colorectal cancer patients and healthy controls. We found a model including CEA, glycine, and tyrosine as best discriminating and superior to CEA alone with an AUROC of 0.878 (95% CI 0.815-0.941). Our serum metabolic profiling in colon cancer revealed multiple significant disease-associated alterations in the amino acid profile with promising diagnostic power. Further large-scale studies are necessary to elucidate the potential of our model also to discriminate between cancer and potential differential diagnoses. In conclusion, serum glycine and tyrosine in combination with CEA are superior to CEA for the discrimination between colorectal cancer patients and controls.

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