The following article features coverage from the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) 2019 meeting. Click here to read more of Cancer Therapy Advisor‘s conference coverage.

Results of a study of circulating metabolites in the plasma of patients diagnosed with small cell lung cancer showed that treatment with chemotherapy was associated with alterations in the plasma levels of specific lipids; these alterations may be associated with clinical outcomes. The findings from this study were presented at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2019.

Metabolomics is an emerging field within precision medicine which investigates small molecule intermediates and products of metabolic processes. 

“Circulating metabolites are functional surrogates for cellular phenotypes, making them ideal to study in cellular transformation and tumor progression,” the study authors noted.

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In this study, plasma specimens collected at baseline, 6 weeks following treatment with platinum-based chemotherapy, and at disease progression, were analyzed using “targeted, quantitative metabolomics” for 27 patients diagnosed with small cell lung cancer.

Key results of the study showed that:

  • Baseline levels of 5 acylcarnitines and a lysoglycerophosphocholine were associated with progression-free survival (PFS)
  • Baseline levels of proline and acylcarnitine (C10:1) were associated with overall survival (OS)
  • Baseline levels of 2 sphingolipids and asymmetric dimethylarginine were increased in patients with more progressive disease
  • Exposure to chemotherapy was associated with decreased levels of 5 specific glycerophospholipids, and increased levels of 31 other specific glycerophospholipids, 7 sphingolipids, and  5 acylcarnitines.

“The higher circulating acylcarnitines may indicate modulation of carnitine palmitoyltransferase and suppression of the beta-oxidation process,” the investigators noted.

“A larger investigation of the plasma metabolome in SCLC may identify biomarkers of patient prognosis and/or therapeutic response/resistance, necessary advancements towards abating the dismal patient survival rates in this disease,” the researchers concluded.

Read more of Cancer Therapy Advisor‘s coverage of AACR 2019 meeting by visiting the conference page.


  1. Pathak KV, Lee S-H, McGilvrey M, et al. Metabolic alterations in plasma associated with survival in small cell lung cancer. Presented at: American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2019; March 29-April 3, 2019; Atlanta, GA. Abstract LB297/14.