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 journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


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
Pages (from-to)2721-2733
Number of pages13
JournalAnalytical and bioanalytical chemistry
Issue number10
Early online date21 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


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


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