Researchers from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center have identified a panel of metabolites that appear to indicate aggressive prostate cancer.
Sarcosine in particular seems to be a strong indicator of advanced disease. Levels of the amino acid were elevated in 79% of the metastatic prostate cancer samples studied and in 42% of the early-stage cancer samples. None of the cancer-free samples had detectable levels of sarcosine. Additionally, sarcosine indicated advanced disease better than PSA, according to the investigators.
Additionally, they found that sarcosine is involved in the same pathways that are linked to cancer invasiveness.
The scientists looked at 1,126 metabolites across 262 samples of tissue, blood, and urine associated with benign prostate tissue, early-stage prostate cancer, and advanced prostate cancer. They mapped the alterations in metabolites and identified about 10 that were present more often in prostate cancer than in the benign cells and that were present most often in the advanced cancer samples.
The article appears in the February 12 issue of Nature.
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