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Research Article

Metabolome Profiling of Malignant Ascites Identifies Candidate Metabolic Biomarkers of Hepatocellular Carcinoma

[ Vol. 31 , Issue. 13 ]


Weijia Wang, Yue Wu, Qinsheng Zhang* and Peilin Cui*   Pages 1769 - 1780 ( 12 )


Background: Malignant ascites is one of the severe complications of hepatocellular carcinoma, which can be regarded as a unique tumor microenvironment of hepatocellular carcinoma. The identification of novel biomarkers in malignant ascites could be crucial to differentiate patients with hepatocellular carcinoma and cirrhotic ascites.

Objective: The study aimed to distinguish the metabolomics of malignant ascites in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma from that of non-malignant ascites (cirrhotic ascites).

Methods: Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry was performed to analyze the differentially distributed biomarkers in patients with malignant ascites and hepatocellular carcinoma (n = 39), as well as in patients with cirrhotic ascites, which were taken as controls (n = 36).

Results: A total of 20 differential metabolites associated with malignant ascites were identified, of which 8 metabolites were upregulated and 12 metabolites were downregulated (ratio < 0.5 or > 1.5, respectively). Moreover, pathway and enrichment analyses revealed nitrogen metabolism, urea cycle, phenylalanine, and tyrosine metabolism to be implicated in the formation of malignant ascites in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma.

Conclusion: Our results suggest that the key factors associated with pathways, such as arachidonic acid, phenylalanine, and glutamic acid pathways, are potential ascitic fluidbased biomarkers for differentiating hepatocellular carcinoma with cirrhosis ascites; the results also provide a clinical pathophysiological interpretation of biomarkers and metabolic pathways relevant to disease status.


Malignant ascites, UPLC-MS/MS, metabolism, hepatocellular carcinoma, biomarkers, tumor.


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