Abdul Rahman M, et al. PeerJ 2020.
Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) represents a significant world health problem, with approximately 600,000 new cases being diagnosed annually. The prognosis for patients with HNSCC is poor and, therefore, the identification of biomarkers for screening, diagnosis and prognostication would be clinically beneficial. A limited number of studies have used lipidomics to profile lipid species in the plasma of cancer patients. However, the profile and levels of lysophosphatidic acid (LPA)
species have not been examined in HNSCC. In this study, a targeted lipidomics approach using liquid chromatography triple quadrupole mass spectrometry (LCMS/MS) was used to analyse the concentration of LPA (16:0 LPA, 18:0 LPA, 18:1 LPA, 18:2 LPA and 20:4 LPA) in the plasma of patients with oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) and nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC), together with healthy controls. The levels of three LPA species (18:1 LPA, 18:2 LPA and 20:4 LPA) were significantly lower in the plasma of OSCC patients, whilst the concentrations of all five LPA species tested were significantly lower in plasma from NPC patients. Furthermore, the order of abundance of LPA species in plasma was different between the control and cancer groups, with 16:0 LPA, 18:0 LPA levels being more abundant in OSCC and NPC patients. Medium to strong correlations were observed using all pairs of LPA species and a clear separation of the normal and tumour groups was observed using PCA analysis. In summary, the results of this study showed that the levels of several LPA species in the plasma of patients with OSCC and NPC were lower than those from healthy individuals. Understanding these variations may provide novel insights into the role of LPA in these cancers.