Serum metabolite signatures of epithelial ovarian cancer based on targeted metabolomics

Clin Chim Acta. 2021 Jul:518:59-69. doi: 10.1016/j.cca.2021.03.012. Epub 2021 Mar 18.


Background: Epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) is a common gynecological cancer with high mortality rates. The main objective of this study was to investigate the serum amino acid and organic acid profiles to distinguish key metabolites for screening EOC patients.

Methods: In total, 39 patients with EOC and 31 healthy controls were selected as the training set. Serum amino acid and organic acid profiles were determined using the targeted metabolomics approach. Metabolite profiles were processed via multivariate analysis to identify potential metabolites and construct a metabolic network. Finally, a test dataset derived from 29 patients and 28 healthy controls was constructed to validate the potential metabolites.

Results: Distinct amino acid and organic acid profiles were obtained between EOC and healthy control groups. Methionine, glutamine, asparagine, glutamic acid and glycolic acid were identified as potential metabolites to distinguish EOC from control samples. The areas under the curve for methionine, glutamine, asparagine, glutamic acid and glycolic acid were 0.775, 0 778, 0.955, 0.874 and 0.897, respectively, in the validation study. Metabolic network analysis of the training set indicated key roles of alanine, aspartate and glutamate metabolism as well as D-glutamine and D-glutamate metabolism in the pathogenesis of EOC.

Conclusions: Amino acid and organic acid profiles may serve as potential screening tools for EOC. Data from this study provide useful information to bridge gaps in the understanding of the amino acid and organic acid alterations associated with epithelial ovarian cancer.

Keywords: Amino acid profiles; Epithelial ovarian cancer; Metabolomics; Organic acid profiles; Serum.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Carcinoma, Ovarian Epithelial
  • Female
  • Glutamine
  • Humans
  • Metabolomics*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms* / diagnosis


  • Amino Acids
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Glutamine