Introduction: Although smoking is a major risk factor for pharyngolaryngeal cancer, most smokers do not develop pharyngolaryngeal cancer. Objectives: In the prospective Korean Cancer Prevention Study-II (KCPS-II), we investigated the application of metabolomics to differentiate smokers with incident pharyngolaryngeal cancer (pharyngolaryngeal cancer group) from smokers who remained free from cancer (controls) during a mean follow-up period of 7 years and aimed to discover valuable early biomarkers of pharyngolaryngeal cancer. Methods: We used baseline serum samples from 30 smoking men with incident pharyngolaryngeal cancer and 59 age-matched cancer-free smoking men. Metabolic alterations associated with the incidence of pharyngolaryngeal cancer were investigated by performing metabolomics on baseline serum samples using ultra-performance liquid chromatography-linear-trap quadrupole-Orbitrap mass spectrometry. Results: Compared to the control group, the pharyngolaryngeal cancer group showed significantly higher oxidized LDL levels. Seventeen metabolites were differentially abundant between the two groups. At baseline, compared to controls, smokers with incident pharyngolaryngeal cancer during follow-up showed significantly higher levels of pyroglutamic acid (glutathione metabolism) but lower levels of lysophosphatidylcholines (lysoPCs) C14:0, C15:0, C16:0, C17:0, C18:0, and C20:5; glycerophosphocholine; PC C36:5; lysoPEs C16:0, C20:1, and C22:0 (glycerophospholipid metabolism); SM (d18:0/16:1); and SM (d18:1/18:1) (sphingomyelin metabolism). Furthermore, smokers with incident pharyngolaryngeal cancer showed significantly higher levels of oleamide and lower levels of tryptophan and linoleyl carnitine at baseline than cancer-free smokers. Conclusion: This prospective study showed the clinical relevance of dysregulated metabolism of glutathione, glycerophospholipids and sphingolipids to the pathogenesis of pharyngolaryngeal cancer among smokers. These data suggest that the dysregulation of these metabolic processes may be a key mechanism underlying pharyngolaryngeal cancer progression and development.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Clinical Biochemistry