Analytical and bioanalytical chemistry

Identification of serum biomarkers of hepatocarcinoma through liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry-based metabonomic method.

PMID 21833635


Late diagnosis of hepatocarcinoma (HCC) is one of the most primary factors for the poor survival of patients. Thereby, identification of sensitive and specific biomarkers for HCC early diagnosis is of great importance in biological medicine to date. In the present study, serum metabolites of the HCC patients and healthy controls were investigated using the improved liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC/MS). A wavelet-based method was utilized to find and align peaks of LC-MS. The characteristic peaks were selected by performing a two-sample t test statistics (p value <0.05). Clustering analysis based on principal component analysis showed a clear separation between HCC patients and healthy individuals. The serum metabolite, namely 1-methyladenosine, was identified as the characteristic metabolite for HCC. Moreover, receiver-operator curves were calculated with 1-methyladenosine and/or alpha fetal protein (AFP). The higher area under curve value was achieved in 1-methyladenosine group than AFP group (0.802 vs. 0.592), and the diagnostic model combining 1-methyladenosine with AFP exhibited significant improved sensitivity, which could identify those patients who missed the diagnosis of HCC by determining serum AFP alone. Overall, these results suggested that LC/MS-based metabonomic study is a potent and promising strategy for identifying novel biomarkers of HCC.