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Phospholipid metabolism of human breast cancer was studied by 31P magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS). In vivo localised 31P MR spectra were obtained from the tumour alone using phase modulated rotating frame imaging. For 31 tumours, median (range) phosphomonoester (PME) to ATP ratio was 1.48 (0.57-3.78) and phosphodiester (PDE) to ATP ratio was 1.65 (0.44-3.89). DNA index and S phase fraction (SPF) were measured by flow cytometry of paraffin embedded tissue. Twelve (39%) tumours were diploid and 19 aneuploid. Median (range) SPF for 29 assessable tumours was 5.3% (0.6-28%), with significantly greater median SPF for aneuploid tumours (9.3%) than diploid (3.8%, P = 0.007). There was a significant association between PME/ATP and SPF (P = 0.03) due to a significant correlation for aneuploid tumours (P = 0.01). High resolution 31P MRS of extracts from 18 tumours (including seven studied in vivo) demonstrated that the PME peak consists predominantly of phosphoethanolamine (PE) with a smaller contribution from phosphocholine (PC) (median (range) PE/PC: 3.02 (1.13-5.09)). Changes in PME/ATP were observed for two tumours where tamoxifen stablized disease and may be consistent with the cytostatic effects of this drug.


Journal article


Br J Cancer

Publication Date





1145 - 1153


Adenosine Triphosphate, Adult, Aged, Breast Neoplasms, Cell Differentiation, Cell Division, DNA, Neoplasm, Female, Flow Cytometry, Humans, Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy, Membrane Lipids, Middle Aged, Phosphates, Phospholipids, Tamoxifen