, 12:60 | Cite as

Metabolomics of biomarker discovery in ovarian cancer: a systematic review of the current literature

  • Onur Turkoglu
  • Amna Zeb
  • Stewart Graham
  • Thomas Szyperski
  • J. Brian Szender
  • Kunle Odunsi
  • Ray Bahado-Singh
Review Article



Metabolomics is the emerging member of “omics” sciences advancing the understanding, diagnosis and treatment of many cancers, including ovarian cancer (OC).


To systematically identify the metabolomic abnormalities in OC detection, and the dominant metabolic pathways associated with the observed alterations.


An electronic literature search was performed, up to and including January 15th 2016, for studies evaluating the metabolomic profile of patients with OC compared to controls. QUADOMICS tool was used to assess the quality of the twenty-three studies included in this systematic review.


Biological samples utilized for metabolomic analysis include: serum/plasma (n = 13), urine (n = 4), cyst fluid (n = 3), tissue (n = 2) and ascitic fluid (n = 1). Metabolites related to cellular respiration, carbohydrate, lipid, protein and nucleotide metabolism were significantly altered in OC. Increased levels of tricarboxylic acid cycle intermediates and altered metabolites of the glycolytic pathway pointed to perturbations in cellular respiration. Alterations in lipid metabolism included enhanced fatty acid oxidation, abnormal levels of glycerolipids, sphingolipids and free fatty acids with common elevations of palmitate, oleate, and myristate. Increased levels of glutamine, glycine, cysteine and threonine were commonly reported while enhanced degradations of tryptophan, histidine and phenylalanine were found. N-acetylaspartate, a brain amino acid, was found elevated in primary and metastatic OC tissue and ovarian cyst fluid. Further, elevated levels of ketone bodies including 3-hydroxybutyrate were commonly reported. Increased levels of nucleotide metabolites and tocopherols were consistent through out the studies.


Metabolomics presents significant new opportunities for diagnostic biomarker development, elucidating previously unknown mechanisms of OC pathogenesis.


Ovarian cancer Metabolomics Metabolites Systematic review Biomarker 

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Onur Turkoglu
    • 1
  • Amna Zeb
    • 1
  • Stewart Graham
    • 1
  • Thomas Szyperski
    • 2
  • J. Brian Szender
    • 3
  • Kunle Odunsi
    • 3
    • 4
  • Ray Bahado-Singh
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Obstetrics and GynecologyBeaumont HospitalRoyal OakUSA
  2. 2.Department of ChemistryCollege of Arts and Sciences, University at BuffaloBuffaloUSA
  3. 3.Department of Gynecologic OncologyRoswell Park Cancer InstituteBuffaloUSA
  4. 4.Center for ImmunotherapyRoswell Park Cancer InstituteBuffaloUSA

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