Noninvasive urinary metabolomic profiling identifies diagnostic and prognostic markers in lung cancer

Cancer Res. 2014 Jun 15;74(12):3259-70. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-14-0109. Epub 2014 Apr 15.


Lung cancer remains the most common cause of cancer deaths worldwide, yet there is currently a lack of diagnostic noninvasive biomarkers that could guide treatment decisions. Small molecules (<1,500 Da) were measured in urine collected from 469 patients with lung cancer and 536 population controls using unbiased liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry. Clinical putative diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers were validated by quantitation and normalized to creatinine levels at two different time points and further confirmed in an independent sample set, which comprises 80 cases and 78 population controls, with similar demographic and clinical characteristics when compared with the training set. Creatine riboside (IUPAC name: 2-{2-[(2R,3R,4S,5R)-3,4-dihydroxy-5-(hydroxymethyl)-oxolan-2-yl]-1-methylcarbamimidamido}acetic acid), a novel molecule identified in this study, and N-acetylneuraminic acid (NANA) were each significantly (P < 0.00001) elevated in non-small cell lung cancer and associated with worse prognosis [HR = 1.81 (P = 0.0002), and 1.54 (P = 0.025), respectively]. Creatine riboside was the strongest classifier of lung cancer status in all and stage I-II cases, important for early detection, and also associated with worse prognosis in stage I-II lung cancer (HR = 1.71, P = 0.048). All measurements were highly reproducible with intraclass correlation coefficients ranging from 0.82 to 0.99. Both metabolites were significantly (P < 0.03) enriched in tumor tissue compared with adjacent nontumor tissue (N = 48), thus revealing their direct association with tumor metabolism. Creatine riboside and NANA may be robust urinary clinical metabolomic markers that are elevated in tumor tissue and associated with early lung cancer diagnosis and worse prognosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / urine*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / urine*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Creatine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Creatine / urine
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Lung Neoplasms / mortality
  • Lung Neoplasms / urine*
  • Male
  • Metabolome
  • Middle Aged
  • N-Acetylneuraminic Acid / urine*
  • Prognosis
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • ROC Curve
  • Ribonucleosides / urine*
  • Smoking / urine


  • 2-(2-(3,4-dihydroxy-5-(hydroxymethyl)oxolan-2-yl)-1-methylcarbamimidamido)acetic acid
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Ribonucleosides
  • N-Acetylneuraminic Acid
  • Creatine