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Plasma lyso-phosphatidylcholine concentration is decreased in cancer patients with weight loss and activated inflammatory status

Lenka A Taylor, Jann Arends, Arwen K Hodina, Clemens Unger and Ulrich Massing*

Author Affiliations

Tumor Biology Center, Dept. of Clinical Research, Breisacher Straße 117, D-79106 Freiburg, Germany

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Lipids in Health and Disease 2007, 6:17  doi:10.1186/1476-511X-6-17

Published: 10 July 2007



It has been observed that ras-transformed cell lines in culture have a higher phosphatidylcholine (PC) biosynthesis rate as well as higher PC-degradation rate (increased PC-turnover) than normal cells. In correspondence to these findings, the concentrations of the PC-degradation product lyso-phosphatidylcholine (LPC) in cancer patients were found to be decreased. Our objective was the systematic investigation of the relationship between LPC and inflammatory and nutritional parameters in cancer patients. Therefore, plasma LPC concentrations were assessed in 59 cancer patients and related to nutritional and inflammatory parameters. To determine LPC in blood plasma we developed and validated a HPTLC method.


Average plasma LPC concentration was 207 ± 59 μM which corresponds to the lower limit of the reported range in healthy subjects. No correlation between LPC and age, performance status, body mass index (BMI) or fat mass could be seen. However, LPC correlated inversely with plasma C-reactive protein (CRP) and whole blood hydrogen peroxides (HPO). Further, a negative correlation could be observed between LPC and whole body extra cellular fluid volume (ECF) as well as with relative change in body weight since cancer diagnosis.


In conclusion, LPC concentrations were decreased in cancer patients. LPC plasma concentrations correlated with weight loss and inflammatory parameters and, therefore, might be a general indicator of severity of malignant disease.