Research Papers:

Lipid profiles of prostate cancer cells

Alexandra Sorvina, Christie A. Bader, Chiara Caporale, Elizabeth A. Carter, Ian R.D. Johnson, Emma J. Parkinson-Lawrence, Peter V. Simpson, Phillip J. Wright, Stefano Stagni, Peter A. Lay, Massimiliano Massi, Douglas A. Brooks and Sally E. Plush _

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Oncotarget. 2018; 9:35541-35552. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.26222

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Alexandra Sorvina1,*, Christie A. Bader1,*, Chiara Caporale2, Elizabeth A. Carter3, Ian R.D. Johnson1, Emma J. Parkinson-Lawrence1, Peter V. Simpson2, Phillip J. Wright2, Stefano Stagni4, Peter A. Lay3, Massimiliano Massi1,2,**, Douglas A. Brooks1,2,** and Sally E. Plush1,2,5,**

1Mechanisms in Cell Biology and Disease Research Group, School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences, Sansom Institute for Health Research, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia

2School of Molecular and Life Science – Curtin Institute for Functional Molecules and Interfaces, Curtin University, Bentley, Australia

3Sydney Analytical and School of Chemistry, The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia

4Department of Industrial Chemistry “Toso Montanari”, University of Bologna, Bologna, Bologna, Italy

5Future Industries Institute, University of South Australia, Mawson Lakes, Australia

*Equal first authors

**Equal last authors

Correspondence to:

Sally E. Plush, email: [email protected]

Keywords: prostate cancer; lipid profiles; LC-ESI-MS/MS; FTIR; lipid dyes

Received: February 15, 2018     Accepted: September 13, 2018     Published: October 30, 2018


Lipids are important cellular components which can be significantly altered in a range of disease states including prostate cancer. Here, a unique systematic approach has been used to define lipid profiles of prostate cancer cell lines, using quantitative mass spectrometry (LC-ESI-MS/MS), FTIR spectroscopy and fluorescent microscopy. All three approaches identified significant difference in the lipid profiles of the three prostate cancer cell lines (DU145, LNCaP and 22RV1) and one non-malignant cell line (PNT1a). Specific lipid classes and species, such as phospholipids (e.g., phosphatidylethanolamine 18:1/16:0 and 18:1/18:1) and cholesteryl esters, detected by LC-ESI-MS/MS, allowed statistical separation of all four prostate cell lines. Lipid mapping by FTIR revealed that variations in these lipid classes could also be detected at a single cell level, however further investigation into this approach would be needed to generate large enough data sets for quantitation. Visualisation by fluorescence microscopy showed striking variations that could be observed in lipid staining patterns between cell lines allowing visual separation of cell lines. In particular, polar lipid staining by a fluorescent marker was observed to increase significantly in prostate cancer lines cells, when compared to PNT1a cells, which was consistent with lipid quantitation by LC-ESI-MS/MS and FTIR spectroscopy. Thus, multiple technologies can be employed to either quantify or visualise changes in lipid composition, and moreover specific lipid profiles could be used to detect and phenotype prostate cancer cells.

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