AJ Wright, GA Fellows, JR Griffiths, M Wilson, BA Bell, FA Howe
BACKGROUND: High-resolution magic angle spinning (HRMAS) NMR spectroscopy allows detailed metabolic analysis of whole biopsy samples for investigating tumour biology and tumour classification. Accurate biochemical assignment of small molecule metabolites that are "NMR visible" will improve our interpretation of HRMAS data and the translation of NMR tumour biomarkers to in-vivo studies. RESULTS: 1D and 2D 1H HRMAS NMR was used to determine that 29 small molecule metabolites, along with 8 macromolecule signals, account for the majority of the HRMAS spectrum of the main types of brain tumour (astrocytoma grade II, grade III gliomas, glioblastomas, metastases, meningiomas and also lymphomas). Differences in concentration of 20 of these metabolites were statistically significant between these brain tumour types. During the course of an extended 2D data acquisition the HRMAS technique itself affects sample analysis: glycine, glutathione and glycerophosphocholine all showed small concentration changes; analysis of the sample after HRMAS indicated structural damage that may affect subsequent histopathological analysis. CONCLUSIONS: A number of small molecule metabolites have been identified as potential biomarkers of tumour type that may enable development of more selective in-vivo 1H NMR acquisition methods for diagnosis and prognosis of brain tumours.