Exploration of human brain tumour metabolism using pairwise metabolite-metabolite correlation analysis (MMCA) of HR-MAS 1H NMR spectra.03 May 2018
METHODS: We quantified 378 HRMAS 1H NMR spectra of human brain tumours (132 glioblastomas, 101 astrocytomas, 75 meningiomas, 37 oligodendrogliomas and 33 metastases) from the eTumour database and looked for metabolic interactions by metabolite-metabolite correlation analysis (MMCA). RESULTS: All tumour types showed remarkably similar metabolic correlations. Lactate correlated positively with alanine, glutamate with glutamine; creatine + phosphocreatine (tCr) correlated positively with lactate, alanine and choline + phosphocholine + glycerophosphocholine (tCho), and tCho correlated positively with lactate; fatty acids correlated negatively with lactate, glutamate + glutamine (tGlut), tCr and tCho. Oligodendrogliomas had fewer correlations but they still fitted that pattern. CONCLUSIONS: Possible explanations include (i) glycolytic tumour cells (the Warburg effect) generating pyruvate which is converted to lactate, alanine, glutamate and then glutamine; (ii) an association between elevated glycolysis and increased choline turnover in membranes; (iii) an increase in the tCr pool to facilitate phosphocreatine-driven glutamate uptake; (iv) lipid signals come from cytosolic lipid droplets in necrotic or pre-necrotic tumour tissue that has lower concentrations of anabolic and catabolic metabolites. Additional metabolite exchanges with host cells may also be involved. If tumours co-opt a standard set of biochemical mechanisms to grow in the brain, then drugs might be developed to disrupt those mechanisms.