Biochemical characterization of metastatic lymph nodes of breast cancer patients by in vitro 1H magnetic resonance spectroscopy: a pilot study

Magn Reson Imaging. 2004 Jun;22(5):697-706. doi: 10.1016/j.mri.2004.01.037.


Using one-dimensional (1D) and two-dimensional (2D) proton nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) methods, the perchloric acid extract of involved (n = 11) and noninvolved (n = 12) axillary lymph nodes (ALN) of breast cancer patients was investigated. Resonances from 40 metabolites such as lactate (Lac), glucose, several amino acids (alanine, lysine, glutamic acid, glutamine, etc.), nucleotides (adenosine triphosphate, guanosine triphosphate, uridine triphosphate, uridine monophosphate, etc.), membrane metabolites [glycerophosphocholine (GPC), phosphocoline (PC), phosphoethanolamine (PE), choline] were unambiguously assigned in both the involved and noninvolved ALN. The concentration of PC/GPC (p = 0.002) was significantly higher in the involved compared to noninvolved nodes. In addition, the concentration of glycolytic product Lac (p = 0.0001) was also found to be significantly higher in involved nodes. Increased concentration of membrane metabolites PC/GPC may be attributed to increased membrane synthesis in malignant cells and, therefore, suggests the presence of metastatic cells in lymph nodes. The higher concentration of Lac is indicative of the presence of malignant cells that derive energy via anaerobic glycolytic pathway. Present results demonstrate the potentials of in vitro proton NMR in detecting malignant cells in ALN and such studies may have an important bearing in determining the prognosis of breast cancer patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Axilla
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymph Nodes / metabolism*
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Protons


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Protons