A distinct serum metabolic signature of distant metastatic papillary thyroid carcinoma

Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2017 Dec;87(6):844-852. doi: 10.1111/cen.13437. Epub 2017 Aug 29.


Background: Although the incidence rate for thyroid cancer seems to have begun stabilizing in recent years, an increased rate of advanced stage of this disease has been reported. Additionally, distant metastasis is one of the most important prognostic factors of patients with papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC). Unfortunately, the underlying mechanisms of distant metastasis, as well as cell status like metabolism changes in distant metastatic tumours have not been clearly elucidated.

Objective: To identify serum metabolic signature of distant metastatic PTC.

Design, patients and measurements: In this study, gas chromatography-time-of-flight mass spectrometry (GC-TOF-MS) was used to analyse the serum from 77 patients diagnosed with PTC (37 in distant metastasis group and 40 in ablation group). Principal component analysis (PCA) and orthogonal partial least-squares-discriminant analysis (OPLS-DA) scores plots were used to analyse the data.

Results: Principal component analysis and OPLS-DA analyses demonstrated an evident trend of separation between 40 serum samples from the ablation group and 37 samples from distant metastasis group. A total of 31 metabolites were identified, which are related to amino acid, lipid, glucose, vitamin metabolism and diet/gut microbiota interaction. Pathway analysis showed "alanine, aspartate and glutamate metabolism" and "inositol phosphate metabolism" were the most relevant pathways.

Conclusion: Serum metabolomics profiling could significantly discriminate papillary thyroid cancer patients according to distant metastasis. Potential metabolic aberration in distant metastatic PTC could be involved in different biological behaviours of tumour cells including proliferation, invasion/migration and immune escape. Diet/gut microbiota-produced metabolites could play an important role in these effects. This work may provide new clues to find the underlying mechanisms regarding the distant metastasis of PTC as well as potential adjuvant therapy targets.

Keywords: distant metastasis; metabolite; metabolomics; papillary thyroid carcinoma.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Carcinoma / blood
  • Carcinoma, Papillary / blood*
  • Female
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metabolomics / methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Thyroid Cancer, Papillary
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / blood*
  • Young Adult