Lipidomes of lung cancer and tumour-free lung tissues reveal distinct molecular signatures for cancer differentiation, age, inflammation, and pulmonary emphysema
Little is known about the human lung lipidome, its variability in different physiological states, its alterations during carcinogenesis and the development of pulmonary emphysema. We investigated how health status might be mirrored in the lung lipidome. Tissues were sampled for both lipidomic and histological analysis. Using a screening approach, we characterised lipidomes of lung cancer tissues and corresponding tumour-free alveolar tissues. We quantified 311 lipids from 11 classes in 43 tissue samples from 26 patients. Tumour tissues exhibited elevated levels of triacylglycerols and cholesteryl esters, as well as a significantly lower abundance of phosphatidylglycerols, which are typical lung surfactant components. Adenocarcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas were distinguished with high specificity based on lipid panels. Lipidomes of tumour biopsy samples showed clear changes depending on their histology and, in particular, their proportion of active tumour cells and stroma. Partial least squares regression showed correlations between lipid profiles of tumour-free alveolar tissues and the degree of emphysema, inflammation status, and the age of patients. Unsaturated long-chain phosphatidylserines and phosphatidylinositols showed a positive correlation with a worsened emphysema status and ageing. This work provides a resource for the human lung lipidome and a systematic data analysis strategy to link clinical characteristics and histology.