Lung cancer is by far the leading cause of cancer death. Metabolomic studies have highlighted that both tumor progression and limited curative treatment options are partly due to dysregulated glucose metabolism and its associated signaling pathways. In our previous studies, we identified caspase-4 as a novel diagnostic tool for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Here, we analyzed the metabolomic profile of both plasma and tumor tissues of NSCLC patients stratified as caspase-4 positive or negative. We found that circulating caspase-4 was correlated to LDH. However, this effect was not observed in caspase-4 positive tumor tissues, where instead, fatty acid biosynthesis was favoured in that the malonic acid and the palmitic acid were higher than in non-cancerous and caspase-4 negative tissues. The glycolytic pathway in caspase-4 positive NSCLC tissues was bypassed by the malonic acid-dependent lipogenesis. On the other hand, the dysregulated glucose metabolism was regulated by a higher presence of succinate dehydrogenase (SDHA) and by the gluconeogenic valine which favoured Krebs' cycle. In conclusion, we found that the recently identified caspase-4 positive subpopulation of NSCLC patients is characterized by a lipidomic profile accompanied by alternative pathways to guarantee glucose metabolism in favour of tumor cell proliferation.
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