Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 185–194 | Cite as

Prognostic significance of tumor phosphatidylcholine stearic acid level in breast carcinoma

  • Philippe Bougnoux
  • Véronique Chajes
  • Monique Lanson
  • Kamel Hacene
  • Gilles Body
  • Charles Couet
  • Olivier Le Floch


The involvement of lipid enzymes in the action of oncogenes at the cell membrane level has suggested that membrane lipids could play a role in modulating the growth of tumors. We previously found that breast cancer patients with a low level of polyunsaturated fatty acids in their primary tumor's phosphatidylethanolamine had a high risk of early occurrence of visceral metastasis. In the present study, we prospectively examined whether fatty acid composition of tumor membrane phosphatidylcholine had a prognostic significance in a series of 63 patients with a localized presentation of breast cancer. Membrane phospholipids were extracted from the carcinoma tissue obtained at the time of surgery, phosphatidylcholine was purified, and its fatty acids were analyzed by capillary gas chromatography. During the follow-up period, 20 patients developed metastasis. In these patients, the proportion of stearic acid containing phosphatidylcholine was significantly lower than it was in the tumors of the 43 patients who remained metastasis-free. Multivariate analysis according to Cox showed that low stearic acid level in tumor phosphatidylcholine and high mitotic index were independently predictive of subsequent metastasis. The predictive value of stearic acid level on metastasis risk was higher in node-positive patients than in node-negative patients, allowing individualization of a subgroup of low stearic acid level, node-positive patients with very poor prognosis. We concluded that stearic acid level in tumor membrane phosphatidylcholine is an independent intra-tumor marker of breast cancer prognosis. This finding is new evidence that tumor's structural lipids are linked to the growth of breast cancer.

Key words

breast cancer metastasis phospholipids fatty acids stearic acid 







Thin-Layer Chromatography


Coefficient of Variation


Standard Deviation


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Philippe Bougnoux
    • 5
  • Véronique Chajes
    • 5
  • Monique Lanson
    • 5
  • Kamel Hacene
    • 1
  • Gilles Body
    • 2
  • Charles Couet
    • 3
  • Olivier Le Floch
    • 4
  1. 1.Dept. de BiostatistiquesCentre René-HugueninSaint-CloudFrance
  2. 2.Clinique Gynécologique et ObstétricaleCHUToursFrance
  3. 3.Laboratoire de NutritionCHUToursFrance
  4. 4.Clinique d'Oncologie et RadiothérapieCHUToursFrance
  5. 5.Laboratoire de Biologie des TumeursCNRS URA 1334 et Faculté de MédecineTours cedexFrance

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