Background: The aim of this study was to characterize the disorder of lipid metabolism in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). HCC is a worldwide disease. The research into the disorder of lipid metabolism in HCC is very limited. Study of lipid metabolism in liver cancer tissue may have the potential to provide new insight into HCC mechanisms. Methods: A lipidomics study of HCC based on Ultra high performance liquid chromatography-electronic spray ionization-QTOF mass spectrometer (UPLC-ESI-QTOF MS) and Matrix assisted laser desorption ionization-fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometer (MALDI-FTICR MS) was performed. Results: Triacylglycerols (TAGs) with the number of double bond (DB) > 2 (except 56:5 and 56:4 TAG) were significantly down-regulated; conversely, others (except 52:2 TAG) were greatly up-regulated in HCC tissues. Moreover, the more serious the disease was, the higher the saturated TAG concentration and the lower the polyunsaturated TAG concentration were in HCC tissues. The phosphatidylcholine (PC), phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) and phosphatidylinositol (PI) were altered in a certain way. Sphingomyelin (SM) was up-regulated and ceramide (Cer) were down-regulated in HCC tissues. Conclusions: To our knowledge, this is the first such report showing a unique trend of TAG, PC, PE and PI. The use of polyunsaturated fatty acids, like eicosapentanoic and docosahexanoic acid, as supplementation, proposed for the treatment of Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), may also be effective for the treatment of HCC.
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