Comparative analysis of volatile metabolomics signals from melanoma and benign skin: A pilot study

T. Abaffy, M. G. Möller, D. D. Riemer, C. Milikowski, R. A. DeFazio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


The analysis of volatile organic compounds (VOC) as biomarkers of cancer is both promising and challenging. In this pilot study, we used an untargeted approach to compare volatile metabolomic signatures of melanoma and matched control non-neoplastic skin from the same patient. VOC from fresh (non-fixed) biopsied tissue were collected using the headspace solid phase micro extraction method (HS SPME) and analyzed by gas chromatography and mass spectrometry (GCMS). We applied the XCMS analysis platform and MetaboAnalyst software to reveal many differentially expressed metabolic features. Our analysis revealed increased levels of lauric acid (C12:0) and palmitic acid (C16:0) in melanoma. The identity of these compounds was confirmed by comparison with chemical standards. Increased levels of these fatty acids are likely to be a consequence of up-regulated de novo lipid synthesis, a known characteristic of cancer. Increased oxidative stress is likely to cause an additional increase in lauric acid. Implementation of this study design on larger number of cases will be necessary for the future metabolomics biomarker discovery applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)998-1008
Number of pages11
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2013


  • GCMS
  • Metabolites
  • Palmitic acid
  • Skin cancer
  • Volatile organic compounds

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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