Isomer-Resolved Imaging of Prostate Cancer Tissues Reveals Specific Lipid Unsaturation Profiles Associated With Lymphocytes and Abnormal Prostate Epithelia

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Frontiers in Endocrinology


Prostate cancer is the fourth most common cancer worldwide with definitive diagnosis reliant on biopsy and human-graded histopathology. As with other pathologies, grading based on classical haematoxylin and eosin (H&E) staining of formalin fixed paraffin-embedded material can be prone to variation between pathologists, prompting investigation of biomolecular markers. Comprising around 50% of cellular mass, and with known metabolic variations in cancer, lipids provide a promising target for molecular pathology. Here we apply isomer-resolved lipidomics in combination with imaging mass spectrometry to interrogate tissue sections from radical prostatectomy specimens. Guided by the histopathological assessment of adjacent tissue sections, regions of interest are investigated for molecular signatures associated with lipid metabolism, especially desaturation and elongation pathways. Monitoring one of the most abundant cellular membrane lipids within these tissues, phosphatidylcholine (PC) 34:1, high positive correlation was observed between the n-9 isomer (site of unsaturation 9-carbons from the methyl terminus) and epithelial cells from potential pre-malignant lesions, while the n-7 isomer abundance was observed to correlate with immune cell infiltration and inflammation. The correlation of lipid isomer signatures with human disease states in tissue suggests a future role for isomer-resolved mass spectrometry imaging in assisting pathologists with prostate cancer diagnoses and patient stratification.

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