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Abstract 5269: Discovery and validation of plasma acylcarnitines for the early diagnosis of hepatocellular carcinoma

Shen, E.Y-L, Abellona, U., Taylor-Robinson, S., Thursz, M., Holmes, E. and Nicholson, J. (2019) Abstract 5269: Discovery and validation of plasma acylcarnitines for the early diagnosis of hepatocellular carcinoma. Cancer Research, 79 (13). p. 5269.

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Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the commonest and the leading cause of cancer death globally. The main cause of this high mortality rate is that patients with HCC are usually diagnosed at late stages since they have only subtle clinical presentations at early stages. This late diagnosis is a result of the requirement of high-end imaging modalities, the use of invasive procedures, and the lack of reliable tumour biomarkers. Metabolomics is the study of metabolites in an organism in response to the changes in health status. The purpose of this study was to identify and validate plasma acylcarnitines as potential diagnostic biomarkers of HCC by using techniques in the field of metabolomics.

228 EDTA-plasma samples of healthy controls, cirrhotic patients, or treatment-naïve patients with HCC, collected from Imperial College Healthcare Tissue Bank, were used as a discovery and training set. Patient factors, including basic patient characteristics, aetiologies of HCC, and Child-Pugh scores, and data relating to tumours, such as the multiplicity, the sizes in diameter, the status of macro-vascular invasion, were collected. A targeted assay was adapted to measure concentrations of carnitine and acylcarnitines with different chain length using the TQ-S tandem quadrupole mass spectrometer. Non-parametric univariate analyses were applied to evaluate the statistical difference between HCC and cirrhosis. Logistic regression was preferred to develop diagnostic models. A Gambian cohort of 165 plasma samples was then used as an external validation.

Among sixteen measured carnitine and acylcarnitines, three acylcarnitines, namely acetylcarnitine, succinylcarnitine, and hexanoylcarnitine, statistically increased in HCC patients comparing to cirrhotic patients. A linear model incorporating these three acylcarnitines and alpha-fetoprotein was then developed. The area under the ROC curve of this multivariable regression model was 0.782 (95% C.I., 0.695-0.870) in the training set. When applied to the validation cohort, the sensitivity and specificity of this model at identifying HCC patients from cirrhosis were 82.2% and 67.8%, respectively.

This report provides a comprehensive profile of the changes of carnitine and acylcarnitines among HCC, cirrhotic patients and healthy controls, and determines the value of acylcarnitines as diagnostic biomarkers for HCC.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Health Futures Institute
Publisher: American Association for Cancer Research
Copyright: © 2019 by the American Association for Cancer Research
Other Information: Proceedings: AACR Annual Meeting 2019; March 29-April 3, 2019; Atlanta, GA
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