Issue 5, 2020

Urine metallomics signature as an indicator of pancreatic cancer


Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is one of the deadliest types of cancer. Its high mortality rate is attributed largely to the difficulty of early diagnosis. Analysis of urine is an excellent non-invasive approach to trace changes in biochemical reactions due to cancer development. Here we show remarkable differences in concentration of several essential metals: significantly lower levels of urinary calcium and magnesium and increased levels of copper and zinc in PDAC when compared to healthy controls, and demonstrate that a combined analysis of these essential metals are accurate indicators (sensitivity = 99.5%) for metal dyshomeostasis in PDAC. In addition, natural stable zinc isotope composition (δ66/64Zn) in urine reveals the preferential excretion of isotopically light zinc in PDAC (δ66/64Znmedian = −0.15‰) compared to healthy controls (δ66/64Znmedian = +0.02‰), likely supporting the dysregulation of metalloproteins. These findings demonstrate for the first time that metallomics is a promising approach for discovery of biomarkers for detection of patients with PDAC, completely non-invasively, using urine samples.

Graphical abstract: Urine metallomics signature as an indicator of pancreatic cancer

Supplementary files

Article information

Article type
10 Mar 2020
18 Mar 2020
First published
18 Mar 2020

Metallomics, 2020,12, 752-757