Vol 69, No 1 (2018)
Original paper
Published online: 2017-12-20

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Discrimination of papillary thyroid cancer from non-cancerous thyroid tissue based on lipid profiling by mass spectrometry imaging

Anna Wojakowska, Laura M. Cole, Mykola Chekan, Katarzyna Bednarczyk, Magdalena Maksymiak, Małgorzata Oczko-Wojciechowska, Barbara Jarząb, Malcolm R. Clench, Joanna Polańska, Monika Pietrowska, Piotr Widlak
Pubmed: 29492952
Endokrynol Pol 2018;69(1):2-8.


Introduction: The distinction of papillary thyroid carcinomas from benign thyroid lesions has important implication for clinical man­agement. Classification based on histopathological features can be supported by molecular biomarkers, including lipidomic signatures, identified with the use of high-throughput mass spectrometry techniques. Formalin fixation is a standard procedure for stabilization and preservation of tissue samples, therefore this type of samples constitute highly valuable source of clinical material for retrospective molecular studies. In this study we used mass spectrometry imaging to detect lipids discriminating papillary cancer from not cancerous thyroid directly in formalin-fixed tissue sections.

Material and methods: For this purpose imaging and profiling of lipids present in non-malignant and cancerous thyroid tissue specimens were conducted. High resolution MALDI-Q-Ion Mobility-TOF-MS technique was used for lipidomic analysis of formalin fixed thyroid tissue samples. Lipids were identified by the comparison of the exact molecular masses and fragmentation pathways of the protonated molecule ions, recorded during the MS/MS experiments, with LIPID MAPS database.

Results: Several phosphatidylcholines (32:0, 32:1, 34:1 and 36:3), sphingomyelins (34:1 and 36:1) and phosphatidic acids (36:2 and 36:3) were detected and their abundances were significantly higher in cancerous tissue compared to non-cancerous tissue. The same lipid species were detected in formalin-fixed as in fresh-frozen tissue, but [M + Na]+ ions were the most abundant in formalin fixed whereas [M + K]+ ions were predominant in fresh tissue.

Conclusions: Our results prove the viability of MALDI-MSI for analysis of lipid distribution directly in formalin-fixed tissue, and the potential for their use in the classification of thyroid diseases.

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