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Research article2020Peer reviewedOpen access

Identification of metabolites associated with prostate cancer risk: a nested case-control study with long follow-up in the Northern Sweden Health and Disease Study

Rohnisch, Hanna E.; Kyro, Cecilie; Olsen, Anja; Thysell, Elin; Hallmans, Goran; Moazzami, Ali A.


Background Prostate cancer is the second most frequently diagnosed cancer in men. Metabolomics can potentially provide new insights into the aetiology of prostate cancer by identifying new metabolic risk factors. This study investigated the prospective association between plasma metabolite concentrations and prostate cancer risk, both overall and by stratifying for disease aggressiveness and baseline age. Methods In a case-control study nested in the Northern Sweden Health and Disease Study, pre-diagnostic concentrations of 148 plasma metabolites were determined using targeted mass spectrometry- and nuclear magnetic resonance-based metabolomics in 777 prostate cancer cases (follow-up >= 5 years) and 777 matched controls. Associations between prostate cancer risk and metabolite concentrations were investigated using conditional logistic regression conditioned on matching factors (body mass index, age and sample storage time). Corrections for multiple testing were performed using false discovery rate (20%) and Bonferroni. Metabolomics analyses generated new hypotheses, which were investigated by leveragingfood frequency questionnaires(FFQs) and oral glucose tolerance tests performed at baseline. Results After correcting for multiple testing, two lysophosphatidylcholines (LPCs) were positively associated with risk of overall prostate cancer (all ages and in older subjects). The strongest association was for LPC C17:0 in older subjects (OR = 2.08; 95% CI 1.45-2.98;p < 0.0001, significant also after the Bonferroni correction). Observed associations with risk of overall prostate cancer in younger subjects were positive for glycine and inverse for pyruvate. For aggressive prostate cancer, there were positive associations with six glycerophospholipids (LPC C17:0, LPC C20:3, LPC C20:4, PC ae C38:3, PC ae C38:4 and PC ae C40:2), while there was an inverse association with acylcarnitine C18:2. Moreover, plasma LPC C17:0 concentrations positively correlated with estimated dietary intake of fatty acid C17:0 from the FFQs. The associations between glycerophospholipids and prostate cancer were stronger in case-controls with normal glucose tolerance. Conclusions Several glycerophospholipids were positively associated with risk of overall and aggressive prostate cancer. The strongest association was observed for LPC C17:0. The associations between glycerophospholipids and prostate cancer risk were stronger in case-controls with normal glucose tolerance, suggesting a link between the glucose metabolism status and risk of prostate cancer.


Prostate cancer; Metabolomics; Nested case-control study; Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy; Mass spectrometry; Risk biomarkers

Published in

BMC Medicine
2020, Volume: 18, number: 1, article number: 187
Publisher: BMC

      SLU Authors

      • Sustainable Development Goals

        Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

        UKÄ Subject classification

        Cell and Molecular Biology
        Cancer and Oncology

        Publication identifier


        Permanent link to this page (URI)