University of Hertfordshire

Urine metallomics signature as an indicator of pancreatic cancer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Kathrin Schilling
  • Fiona Larner
  • Amina Saad
  • Rhiannon Roberts
  • Hemant M Kocher
  • Oleg Blyuss
  • Alex N Halliday
  • Tatjana Crnogorac-Jurcevic
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Original languageEnglish
JournalMetallomics : integrated biometal science
Early online date18 Mar 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Mar 2020


Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is one of the deadliest types of cancer. Its high mortality rate is attributed largely to the difficulty of early diagnosis. Analysis of urine is an excellent non-invasive approach to trace changes in biochemical reactions due to cancer development. Here we show remarkable differences in concentration of several essential metals: significantly lower levels of urinary calcium and magnesium and increased levels of copper and zinc in PDAC when compared to healthy controls, and demonstrate that a combined analysis of these essential metals are accurate indicators (sensitivity = 99.5%) for metal dyshomeostasis in PDAC. In addition, natural stable zinc isotope composition (δ66/64Zn) in urine reveals the preferential excretion of isotopically light zinc in PDAC (δ66/64Znmedian = -0.15‰) compared to healthy controls (δ66/64Znmedian = +0.02‰), likely supporting the dysregulation of metalloproteins. These findings demonstrate for the first time that metallomics is a promising approach for discovery of biomarkers for detection of patients with PDAC, completely non-invasively, using urine samples.


© 2020 Royal Society of Chemistry. This is the accepted manuscript version of an article which has been published in final form at

ID: 20483750