1H NMR spectroscopy of colon tumors and normal mucosal biopsies; elevated taurine levels and reduced polyethyleneglycol absorption in tumors may have diagnostic significance

NMR Biomed. 1993 Mar-Apr;6(2):111-8. doi: 10.1002/nbm.1940060202.


Twenty-three pairs of normal mucosa and colonic adenocarcinoma biopsy specimens have been examined in this pilot study by 1H NMR spectroscopy at 9.4 T to determine whether it was possible to find spectral malignancy markers. The 3.2 ppm (trimethylamine-containing compounds)/0.9 ppm (methyl of fatty acids) resonance intensity ratio in water suppressed spectra, proposed by other authors as a malignancy marker, results in our hands, using resonance areas, in partial overlap between tumor and mucosa values, which reduces its diagnostic value. Furthermore, we have found that submucosa contamination could mask the normal mucosa pattern and artifactually decrease the 3.2/0.9 ppm, ratio value by increasing the 0.9 ppm resonance due to the known triglyceride content of normal submucosa. On the other hand, we have observed in the Hahn spin-echo spectra of intact biopsies resonances arising from taurine and exogenous polyethyleneglycol (PEG). Their assignment and quantification has been carried out in perchloric acid extracts of the tissue biopsies. The taurine (3.4 ppm)/creatine (3.0 ppm) area ratio produced an excellent discrimination between normal mucosa and tumour groups while the PEG (3.7 ppm)/creatine (3.0 ppm) area ratio presented a large overlap, although it was clearly higher in the mucosae than in the tumors for paired samples. These two NMR observable parameters are in our hands highly discriminating and are accordingly proposed as malignancy markers in tissue biopsies although their possible utility for in vivo studies remains to be demonstrated.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / diagnosis*
  • Adenocarcinoma / metabolism
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Aged
  • Biopsy
  • Colonic Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Absorption*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / anatomy & histology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / cytology*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polyethylene Glycols / pharmacokinetics*
  • Protons
  • Taurine / metabolism*


  • Protons
  • Taurine
  • Polyethylene Glycols