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Lipid Heterogeneity Resulting from Fatty Acid Processing in the Human Breast Cancer Microenvironment Identified by GCIB-ToF-SIMS Imaging

Journal article
Authors Tina B. Angerer
Ylva Magnusson
Göran Landberg
John S. Fletcher
Published in Analytical Chemistry
Volume 88
Issue 23
Pages 11946-54
ISSN 0003-2700
Publication year 2016
Published at Sahlgrenska Cancer Center
Department of Chemistry and Molecular Biology
Pages 11946-54
Language en
Subject categories Physical Chemistry, Cancer and Oncology, Analytical Chemistry


Breast cancer is an umbrella term used to describe a collection of different diseases with broad inter- and intratumor heterogeneity. Understanding this variation is critical in order to develop, and precisely prescribe, new treatments. Changes in the lipid metabolism of cancerous cells can provide important indications as to the metabolic state of the cells but are difficult to investigate with conventional histological methods. Due to the introduction of new higher energy (40 kV) gas cluster ion beams (GCIBs), time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (ToF-SIMS) imaging is now capable of providing information on the distribution of hundreds of molecular species simultaneously on a cellular to subcellular scale. GCIB-ToF-SIMS was used to elucidate changes in lipid composition in nine breast cancer biopsy samples. Improved molecular signal generation by the GCIB produced location-specific information that revealed elevated levels of essential lipids to be related to inflammatory cells in the stroma, while cancerous areas were dominated by nonessential fatty acids and a variety of phosphatidylinositol species with further in-tumor variety arising from decreased desaturase activity. These changes in lipid composition due to different enzyme activity are seemingly independent of oxygen availability and can be linked to favorable cell membrane properties for either proliferation/invasion or drug resistance/survival

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