Elevated contents of choline phospholipid metabolites are typically detected by nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) in human and animal tumors. An increase in the intensity of the 1H-MRS profile of total cholinecontaining compounds (tCho, 3.2 ppm) is today considered as a common feature in different types of cancer, beyond their otherwise wide phenotypic variability. This finding fostered investigations on the molecular mechanisms underlying the observed spectral changes and on correlations between aberrant phospholipid metabolism and tumor progression. At the clinical level, efforts are addressed to evaluate effectiveness and potential use of in vivo localized MRS and choline-based positron emission tomography (Cho-PET) in cancer diagnosis. Aims of this article are: a) to overview recent advances in the identification of biochemical pathways responsible for the altered 1H-MRS tCho profile in breast and ovary cancer cells, as a basis for interpreting in vivo MR spectra and enhanced uptake of radiolabeled choline in PET; b) to summarize recent developments of in vivo 1H-MRS methods in breast cancer diagnosis; c) to discuss the potentialities of complementing current diagnostic modalities with noninvasive MRS and Cho-PET methods to monitor biochemical alterations associated with progression, relapse and therapy response in ovary cancer.
Keywords: Breast cancer, ovary cancer, choline metabolism, phosphatidylcholine cycle, 1H-MRS, PET
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