Ovarian high-grade serous carcinoma (HGSC) results in the highest mortality among gynecological cancers, developing rapidly and aggressively. Dissimilarly, serous borderline ovarian tumors (BOT) can progress into low-grade serous carcinomas and have relatively indolent clinical behavior. The underlying biological differences between HGSC and BOT call for accurate diagnostic methodologies and tailored treatment options, and identification of molecular markers of aggressiveness could provide valuable biochemical insights and improve disease management. Here we used desorption electrospray ionization (DESI) mass spectrometry (MS) to image and chemically characterize the metabolic profiles of HGSC, BOT, and normal ovarian tissue samples. DESI-MS imaging enabled clear visualization of fine papillary branches in serous BOT and allowed for characterization of spatial features of tumor heterogeneity such as adjacent necrosis and stroma in HGSC. Predictive markers of cancer aggressiveness were identified, including various free fatty acids, metabolites, and complex lipids such as ceramides, glycerophosphoglycerols, cardiolipins, and glycerophosphocholines. Classification models built from a total of 89,826 individual pixels, acquired in positive and negative ion modes from 78 different tissue samples, enabled diagnosis and prediction of HGSC and all tumor samples in comparison to normal tissues, with overall agreements of 96.4% and 96.2%, respectively. HGSC and BOT discrimination was achieved with an overall accuracy of 93.0%. Interestingly, our classification model allowed identification of three BOT samples presenting unusual histologic features that could be associated with the development of low-grade carcinomas. Our results suggest DESI-MS as a powerful approach for rapid serous ovarian cancer diagnosis based on altered metabolic signatures.
- Received November 11, 2016.
- Revision received March 31, 2017.
- Accepted April 5, 2017.
- Copyright ©2017, American Association for Cancer Research.