Phospholipids (PLs), key elements of cellular membranes, are regulated reciprocally with membrane proteins and can act as sensors for alterations in physiological or pathological states of cells including initiation and development of cancer. On the other hand, peripheral blood mononuclear cells (MNCs) play an important role in antitumor immune response by reacting to cancerous modifications in distant organs. In the current study, we tested the hypothesis that tumor initiation and development are reflected in the alteration pattern of the MNC PL component. We analyzed MNC membrane PL fractions in samples from healthy individuals and from patients with diverse types of cancers to reveal possible alterations induced by malignancy. Compared to healthy controls, the cancer samples demonstrated shifts in several membrane PL profiles. In particular, when analyzing cancer data pooled together, there were significantly higher levels in lysophosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylcholine, and phosphatidylethanolamine fractions, and significantly lower quantities in phosphatidylinositol, phosphatidylserine, and phosphatidic acid fractions in cancer samples compared to controls. The levels of sphingomyelins and diphosphatidylglycerols were relatively unaffected. Most of the differences in PLs were sustained during the analysis of individual cancers such as breast cancer and chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Our findings suggest the presence of a common pattern of changes in MNC PLs during malignancy.
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