Altered N-linked glycosylation in endometrial cancer

Parul Mittal, Matthew Briggs, Manuela Klingler-Hoffmann, Gurjeet Kaur, Nicolle H. Packer, Martin K. Oehler, Peter Hoffmann*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


It is well established that cell surface glycans play a vital role in biological processes and their altered form can lead to carcinogenesis. Mass spectrometry–based techniques have become prominent for analysing N-linked glycans, for example using matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry (MALDI MS). Additionally, MALDI MS can be used to spatially map N-linked glycans directly from cancer tissue using a technique termed MALDI MS imaging (MALDI MSI). This powerful technique combines mass spectrometry and histology to visualise the spatial distribution of N-linked glycans on a single tissue section. Here, we performed N-glycan MALDI MSI on six endometrial cancer (EC) formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissue sections and tissue microarrays (TMA) consisting of eight EC patients with lymph node metastasis (LNM) and twenty without LNM. By doing so, several putative N-linked glycan compositions were detected that could significantly distinguish normal from cancerous endometrium. Furthermore, a complex core-fucosylated N-linked glycan was detected that could discriminate a primary tumour with and without LNM. Structural identification of these putative N-linked glycans was performed using porous graphitized carbon liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (PGC-LC-MS/MS). Overall, we observed higher abundance of oligomannose glycans in tumour compared to normal regions with AUC ranging from 0.85–0.99, and lower abundance of complex N-linked glycans with AUC ranges from 0.03–0.28. A comparison of N-linked glycans between primary tumours with and without LNM indicated a reduced abundance of a complex core-fucosylated N-glycan (Hex)2(HexNAc)2(Deoxyhexose)1+(Man)3(GlcNAc)2, in primary tumour with associated lymph node metastasis. In summary, N-linked glycan MALDI MSI can be used to differentiate cancerous endometrium from normal, and endometrial cancer with LNM from endometrial cancer without.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalAnalytical and bioanalytical chemistry
Early online date21 Nov 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Nov 2020


  • Biomarker
  • Endometrial cancer
  • Glycan imaging
  • Lymph node metastasis

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