In a paradigm shift, cancer research efforts are being dedicated to the discovery of chemopreventive agents. The goal of this approach is to delay or prevent the progression of augmented cell division to established cancer. Research has focused on dietary supplements, drugs, and endogenous lipids that possess anti-inflammatory properties. We undertook a lipidomics analysis of potential endogenous anti-inflammatory/anti-proliferative lipids in human plasma. We performed high-resolution mass spectrometric lipidomics analyses of plasma samples from controls and patients with colorectal, kidney, pancreatic, glioblastoma, and breast cancers. We present evidence that endogenous very-long-chain dicarboxylic acids (VLCDCA) are anti-inflammatory lipids that possess chemopreventative properties. In a family of VLCDCAs, we characterized VLCDCA 28:4, which is decreased in the plasma of patients with colorectal, kidney, and pancreatic cancers. The structure of this biomarker was validated by derivatization strategies, synthesis of the analytical standard, and tandem mass spectrometry. Our data suggest that VLCDCA 28:4 may be a useful blood biomarker for a number of cancers and that resupplying this lipid, via a prodrug for example, may offer a new anti-inflammatory therapeutic strategy for delaying or preventing the progression of cancer and other inflammatory diseases.
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