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Speciation analysis for cancer diagnosis


Human health conditions are manifesting itself within the profile of biomolecules and metabolites within the different body compartments including blood as well as the excreta such as urine. For this reason medical diagnosis is often starting with the analysis of blood and urine.  Since the biological activity of biomolecules is related to the structure of the molecule rather than to the elemental composition, total element concentrations available from trace element and mineral analysis are often not specific enough to provide meaningful information related to human health.

Despite this fact, papers related on the correlation of health conditions with concentrations of trace elements are numerous. Often such studies conclude that a correlation between elemental concentrations and disease could not be found, or if a correlation was found, the differentiation between normal and disease conditions is not "sharp" enought to be used as a diagnostic tool for the individual patient. It can be expected from the much higher information level of chemical speciation analysis providing information not accessible to classical trace element and mineral analysis, that speciation analysis could be useful as an improved diagnostic tool.

Brief overview of cancer diagnosis by speciation analysis
While the enhance information level provided by speciation analysis has been explored mainly in the field of research, the application for clinical diagnostic is still rather limited. Some investigators have tried to explore the capabilities of speciation analysis for cancer diagnosis.

General cancer diagnosis
A new study shows that even if a selective marker cannot be identified, meaningful information can be extracted from the species profile by multivariate data analysis. Reversed-phase chromatographic profiling of the organic tumour and plasma extracts revealed the presence of a number of well-retained phosphorus-containing compounds that showed tumour-specific profiles.

David F. Thompson, Filippos Michopoulos, Christopher J. Smith, Catherine J. Duckett, Robert W. Wilkinson, Philip Jarvis, Ian D. Wilson, Phosphorus and sulfur metabonomic profiling of tissue and plasma obtained from tumour-bearingmice using ultra-performance liquid chromatography/inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry, Rapid Commun. Mass Spectrom., 27 (2013) 2539–2545. DOI: 10.1002/rcm.6722

Colorectal cancer:
Patients with early cancer stage showed a significantly higher level of Seleno-Albumin (19±3 ng/mL) in respect to both metastatic CRC patients (16±4 ng/mL) and healthy controls (16±3 ng/mL).

Marco Roman, Petru Jitaru, Marco Agostini, Giulio Cozzi, Salvatore Pucciarelli, Donato Nitti, Chiara Bedin, Carlo Barbante, Serum seleno-proteins status for colorectal cancer screening explored by data mining techniques - a multidisciplinary pilot study,
Microchem. J., 105 (2012) 124–132. doi: 10.1016/j.microc.2012.02.004

Liver cancer
The concentrations of metallothionein (MT) isomers change depending on the progress of the tumor, and information on MT isomers and trace elements is very useful in determining the stage of the chronic hepatic disorder.

Takumi Kawata, Shunsuke Nakamura, Akihiro Nakayama, Hiroyuki Fukuda, Masaaki Ebara, Takeaki Nagamine, Takeshi Min ami, Hiromu Sakurai, An Improved Diagnostic Method for Chronic Hepatic Disorder: Analyses of Metallothionein Isoforms and Trace Metals in the Liver of Patients with Hepatocellular Carcinoma as Determined by Capillary Zone
Electrophoresis and Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry,
Biol. Pharm. Bull., 29/3 (2006) 403—409. doi: 10.1248/bpb.29.403

Thyroid cancer
The metallothionein profile of cancerogenous thyroid tissue differed remarkably from healthy tissue.

Sergei F. Boulyga, Valeria Loreti, Jörg Bettmer, Klaus G. Heumann, Application of SEC-ICP-MS for comparative analyses of metal-containing species in cancerous and healthy human thyroid samples, Anal. Bioanal. Chem., 380 (2004) 198–203. DOI: 10.1007/s00216-004-2699-6

Bladder cancer
The urinary MT-bound cadmium is significantly elevated in cancer patients.

Christian Wolf, Romy Strenziok, Antonios Kyriakopoulos, Elevated metallothionein-bound cadmium concentrations in urine from bladder carcinoma patients, investigated by size exclusion chromatography-inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry, Anal. Chim. Acta, 631 (2009) 218–222. DOI: 10.1016/j.aca.2008.10.035

Michael Sperling

Related EVISA Resources

Link database: Protein-bound species and human health
Brief summary: Speciation analysis for the study of metallodrugs and their biomolecular interactions
Brief summary: Speciation analysis as a tool to enhance the quality of life

Related EVISA News

July 22, 2010: ICP-MS Analysis Suggests Metal-Binding Proteins Significantly More Abundant Than Thought
June 25, 2009: New mass spectrometric method allows fast and comprehensive analyses of metabolites
May 4, 2009: Gadolinium speciation analysis in search for the cause of nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF)
April 9, 2007: Trimethylselenonium is not the major metabolite for human cancer patients excreting high doses of selenium
November 20, 2006: Metal species and Alzheimer disease 
October 18, 2006: Speciation analysis by LC-ICP-MS finds new application area in clinical chemistry: Ceruloplasmin

last time modified: October 15, 2013


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