Altered Plasma Fatty Acid Abundance Is Associated with Cachexia in Treatment-Naïve Pancreatic Cancer

Kristyn Gumpper-Fedus, Phil A. Hart, Martha A. Belury, Olivia Crowe, Rachel M. Cole, Valentina Pita Grisanti, Niharika Badi, Sophia Liva, Alice Hinton, Christopher Coss, Mitchell L. Ramsey, Anne Noonan, Darwin L. Conwell, Zobeida Cruz-Monserrate

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Cachexia occurs in up to 80% of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) patients and is characterized by unintentional weight loss and tissue wasting. To understand the metabolic changes that occur in PDAC-associated cachexia, we compared the abundance of plasma fatty acids (FAs), measured by gas chromatography, of subjects with treatment-naïve metastatic PDAC with or without cachexia, defined as a loss of >2% weight and evidence of sarcopenia (n = 43). The abundance of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated FAs was not different between subjects with cachexia and those without. Oleic acid was significantly higher in subjects with cachexia (p = 0.0007) and diabetes (p = 0.015). Lauric (r = 0.592, p = 0.0096) and eicosapentaenoic (r = 0.564, p = 0.015) acids were positively correlated with age in cachexia patients. Subjects with diabetes (p = 0.021) or both diabetes and cachexia (p = 0.092) had low palmitic:oleic acid ratios. Linoleic acid was lower in subjects with diabetes (p = 0.018) and correlated with hemoglobin (r = 0.519, p = 0.033) and albumin (r = 0.577, p = 0.015) in subjects with cachexia. Oleic or linoleic acid may be useful treatment targets or biomarkers of cachexia in patients with metastatic PDAC, particularly those with diabetes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number910
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 1 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: Research in this publication was supported by grants from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (TL1TR002735 to K.G.-F.), the National Cancer Institute (R21CA256409 to Z.C.-M., P.A.H., M.A.B., and C.C. and R21209566 to M.A.B.), the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Hatch Project (M.A.B.), and by the National Cancer Institute and National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (U01DK108327 to D.L.C., Z.C.-M., P.A.H.). The content of this publication is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences or the National Institutes of Health.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authorsLicensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Albumin
  • Diabetes
  • Fatty acids
  • Hemoglobin
  • Linoleic acid
  • Oleic acid
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Sarcopenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (all)


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