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      Targeted metabolomics in colorectal cancer: a strategic approach using standardized laboratory tests of the blood and urine

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          Glycolytic markers have been detected in colorectal cancer (CRC) using advanced analytical methods.


          Using commercially available assays, by-products of anaerobic metabolism were prospectively measured in the blood and urine of 20 patients with metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) and 20 patients with local disease. Twenty-four-hour urine citrate, plasma lactate, ketones, venous blood gas, anion gap, and osmolar gap were investigated. Results of patients with metastatic and local CRC were compared using two-sample t-tests or equivalent nonparametric tests. In addition, plasma total CO 2 concentrations in our local hospital (5,931 inpatients and 1,783 outpatients) were compared retrospectively with those in our dedicated cancer center (1,825 outpatients) over 1 year.


          The average venous pCO 2 was higher in patients with mCRC (50.2 mmHg; standard deviation [SD]=9.36) compared with those with local disease (42.8 mmHg; SD=8.98), p=0.045. Calculated serum osmolarity was higher in mCRC and attributed to concomitant sodium and urea elevations. In our retrospective analysis, plasma total CO 2 concentrations (median=27 mmol/L) were higher in cancer patients compared to both hospital inpatients (median=23 mmol/L) and outpatients (median=24 mmol/L), p<0.0001.


          Patients with mCRC had higher venous pCO 2 levels than those with local disease. Although causation cannot be established, we hypothesize that pCO 2 elevation may stem from a perturbed metabolism in mCRC.

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          Most cited references 16

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          Hypoxia signalling in cancer and approaches to enforce tumour regression.

          Tumour cells emerge as a result of genetic alteration of signal circuitries promoting cell growth and survival, whereas their expansion relies on nutrient supply. Oxygen limitation is central in controlling neovascularization, glucose metabolism, survival and tumour spread. This pleiotropic action is orchestrated by hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF), which is a master transcriptional factor in nutrient stress signalling. Understanding the role of HIF in intracellular pH (pH(i)) regulation, metabolism, cell invasion, autophagy and cell death is crucial for developing novel anticancer therapies. There are new approaches to enforce necrotic cell death and tumour regression by targeting tumour metabolism and pH(i)-control systems.
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            Quantitative metabolome profiling of colon and stomach cancer microenvironment by capillary electrophoresis time-of-flight mass spectrometry.

            Most cancer cells predominantly produce energy by glycolysis rather than oxidative phosphorylation via the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle, even in the presence of an adequate oxygen supply (Warburg effect). However, little has been reported regarding the direct measurements of global metabolites in clinical tumor tissues. Here, we applied capillary electrophoresis time-of-flight mass spectrometry, which enables comprehensive and quantitative analysis of charged metabolites, to simultaneously measure their levels in tumor and grossly normal tissues obtained from 16 colon and 12 stomach cancer patients. Quantification of 94 metabolites in colon and 95 metabolites in stomach involved in glycolysis, the pentose phosphate pathway, the TCA and urea cycles, and amino acid and nucleotide metabolisms resulted in the identification of several cancer-specific metabolic traits. Extremely low glucose and high lactate and glycolytic intermediate concentrations were found in both colon and stomach tumor tissues, which indicated enhanced glycolysis and thus confirmed the Warburg effect. Significant accumulation of all amino acids except glutamine in the tumors implied autophagic degradation of proteins and active glutamine breakdown for energy production, i.e., glutaminolysis. In addition, significant organ-specific differences were found in the levels of TCA cycle intermediates, which reflected the dependency of each tissue on aerobic respiration according to oxygen availability. The results uncovered unexpectedly poor nutritional conditions in the actual tumor microenvironment and showed that capillary electrophoresis coupled to mass spectrometry-based metabolomics, which is capable of quantifying the levels of energy metabolites in tissues, could be a powerful tool for the development of novel anticancer agents that target cancer-specific metabolism.
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              Regulation of pyruvate metabolism and human disease

              Pyruvate is a keystone molecule critical for numerous aspects of eukaryotic and human metabolism. Pyruvate is the end-product of glycolysis, is derived from additional sources in the cellular cytoplasm, and is ultimately destined for transport into mitochondria as a master fuel input undergirding citric acid cycle carbon flux. In mitochondria, pyruvate drives ATP production by oxidative phosphorylation and multiple biosynthetic pathways intersecting the citric acid cycle. Mitochondrial pyruvate metabolism is regulated by many enzymes, including the recently discovered mitochondria pyruvate carrier, pyruvate dehydrogenase, and pyruvate carboxylase, to modulate overall pyruvate carbon flux. Mutations in any of the genes encoding for proteins regulating pyruvate metabolism may lead to disease. Numerous cases have been described. Aberrant pyruvate metabolism plays an especially prominent role in cancer, heart failure, and neurodegeneration. Because most major diseases involve aberrant metabolism, understanding and exploiting pyruvate carbon flux may yield novel treatments that enhance human health.

                Author and article information

                Hypoxia (Auckl)
                Hypoxia (Auckl)
                Dove Medical Press
                24 May 2017
                : 5
                : 61-66
                [1 ]Department of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario
                [2 ]Sunnybrook Odette Cancer Centre, University of Toronto, Toronto
                [3 ]Department of Medicine, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario
                [4 ]Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence and Impact, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario
                [5 ]Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario
                [6 ]Division of Biostatistics, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto
                [7 ]Department of Oncology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Katarzyna J Jerzak, Sunnybrook Odette Cancer Centre, University of Toronto, 2075 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON, Canada M4N 3M5, Email katarzyna.jerzak@ 123456sunnybrook.ca
                © 2017 Jerzak et al. This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited

                The full terms of this license are available at https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/). By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.

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