Imperial College London


Faculty of MedicineSchool of Public Health

Research Associate



chungho.lau Website




vc7Medical SchoolSt Mary's Campus





Publication Type

21 results found

Gallego-Paüls M, Hernández-Ferrer C, Bustamante M, Basagaña X, Barrera-Gómez J, Lau C-HE, Siskos AP, Vives-Usano M, Ruiz-Arenas C, Wright J, Slama R, Heude B, Casas M, Grazuleviciene R, Chatzi L, Borràs E, Sabidó E, Carracedo Á, Estivill X, Urquiza J, Coen M, Keun HC, González JR, Vrijheid M, Maitre Let al., 2021, Variability of multi-omics profiles in a population-based child cohort., BMC Medicine, Vol: 19, Pages: 1-16, ISSN: 1741-7015

BACKGROUND: Multiple omics technologies are increasingly applied to detect early, subtle molecular responses to environmental stressors for future disease risk prevention. However, there is an urgent need for further evaluation of stability and variability of omics profiles in healthy individuals, especially during childhood. METHODS: We aimed to estimate intra-, inter-individual and cohort variability of multi-omics profiles (blood DNA methylation, gene expression, miRNA, proteins and serum and urine metabolites) measured 6 months apart in 156 healthy children from five European countries. We further performed a multi-omics network analysis to establish clusters of co-varying omics features and assessed the contribution of key variables (including biological traits and sample collection parameters) to omics variability. RESULTS: All omics displayed a large range of intra- and inter-individual variability depending on each omics feature, although all presented a highest median intra-individual variability. DNA methylation was the most stable profile (median 37.6% inter-individual variability) while gene expression was the least stable (6.6%). Among the least stable features, we identified 1% cross-omics co-variation between CpGs and metabolites (e.g. glucose and CpGs related to obesity and type 2 diabetes). Explanatory variables, including age and body mass index (BMI), explained up to 9% of serum metabolite variability. CONCLUSIONS: Methylation and targeted serum metabolomics are the most reliable omics to implement in single time-point measurements in large cross-sectional studies. In the case of metabolomics, sample collection and individual traits (e.g. BMI) are important parameters to control for improved comparability, at the study design or analysis stage. This study will be valuable for the design and interpretation of epidemiological studies that aim to link omics signatures to disease, environmental exposures, or both.

Journal article

Robinson O, Lau C, 2021, DNA methylation age as a biomarker for cancer, International Journal of Cancer, Vol: 148, Pages: 2652-2663, ISSN: 0020-7136

Cancer is well established as an age‐associated disease, and there is substantial overlap in the molecular, cellular and physiological changes observed with both ageing and the progression of cancer. Age‐specific declines in resilience mechanisms such as DNA repair or epigenetic maintenance may contribute to the development of cancer. These declines may be assessed through biomarkers that measure biological age and through the related concept of “age acceleration”. Epigenetic clocks, assessed through DNA methylation levels, are among the most widely used biological age markers in cancer studies. In this review, we discuss the use of DNA methylation ageing measures to predict population cancer incidence, mortality and survival. Blood‐based DNA methylation age estimators appear to be promising measures of increased cancer risk and mortality, although their reported effects are generally weak, thus its clinical relevance remains to be validated in large case‐cohort and longitudinal studies. Future development of epigenetic and other biological age biomarkers will likely further elucidate the links between ageing and cancer.

Journal article

Robinson O, Carter AR, Aola-Korpela M, Casas JP, Chaturvedi N, Engmann J, Howe LD, Hughes A, Jarvelin MJ, Kahonen M, Karhunen V, Kuh D, Shah T, Ben-Shlomo Y, Sofat R, Lau CE, Lehtimaki T, Menon U, Raitakari O, Ryan A, Providencia R, Smith S, Taylor J, Tillin T, Viikari J, Wong A, Hingorani AD, Kivimaki M, Vineis Pet al., 2021, Metabolic profiles of socioeconomic position: a multi-cohort analysis, International Journal of Epidemiology, Vol: 50, Pages: 768-782, ISSN: 0300-5771

BackgroundLow socioeconomic position (SEP) is a risk factor for multiple health outcomes, but its molecular imprints in the body remain unclear. MethodsWe examined SEP as a determinant of serum nuclear magnetic resonance metabolic profiles, in approximately 30,000 adults and 4,000 children across ten UK and Finnish cohort studies. ResultsIn risk factor-adjusted analysis of 233 metabolic measures, low educational attainment was associated with 37 measures including higher levels of triglycerides in small high-density lipoproteins (HDL) and lower levels of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), omega-3 fatty acids, apolipoprotein A1, large and very large HDL particles (including levels of their respective lipid constituents), and cholesterol measures across different density lipoproteins. Among adults whose father worked in manual occupations, associations with apolipoprotein A1, large and very large HDL particles and HDL-2 cholesterol remained after adjustment for SEP in later life. Among manual workers, levels of glutamine were higher compared to non-manual workers. All three indicators of low SEP were associated with lower DHA, omega-3 fatty acids and HDL diameter. At all ages, children of manual workers had lower levels of DHA as a proportion of total fatty acids.ConclusionsOur work indicates that social and economic factors have a measurable impact on human physiology. Lower SEP was independently associated with a generally unfavorable metabolic profile, consistent across ages and cohorts. The metabolites we found associated with SEP, including DHA, are known to predict cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline in later life and may contribute to health inequalities.

Journal article

Lau CH, Taylor-Bateman V, Vorkas PA, Gomes Da Graca G, Vu T-H, Hou L, Chekmeneva E, Ebbels T, Chan Q, Van Horn L, Holmes Eet al., 2020, Metabolic signatures of gestational weight gain and postpartum weight loss in a lifestyle intervention study of overweight and obese women, Metabolites, Vol: 10, ISSN: 2218-1989

BACKGROUND: Overweight and obesity amongst women of reproductive age are increasingly common in developed economies and are shown to adversely affect birth outcomes and both childhood and adulthood health risks in the offspring. Metabolic profiling in conditions of overweight and obesity in pregnancy could potentially be applied to elucidate the molecular basis of the adverse effects of gestational weight gain (GWG) and postpartum weight loss (WL) on future risks for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and other chronic diseases. METHODS: Biofluid samples were collected from 114 ethnically diverse pregnant women with body mass index (BMI) between 25 and 40 kg/m2 from Chicago (US), as part of a randomized lifestyle intervention trial (Maternal Offspring Metabolics: Family Intervention Trial; NCT01631747). At 15 weeks, 35 weeks of gestation, and at 1 year postpartum, the blood plasma lipidome and metabolic profile of urine samples were analyzed by liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (LC-MS) and 1H nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H NMR) respectively. RESULTS: Urinary 4-deoxyerythronic acid and 4-deoxythreonic acid were found to be positively correlated to BMI. Seventeen plasma lipids were found to be associated with GWG and 16 lipids were found to be associated with WL, which included phosphatidylinositols (PI), phosphatidylcholines (PC), lysophospholipids (lyso-), sphingomyelins (SM) and ether phosphatidylcholine (PC-O). Three phospholipids found to be positively associated with GWG all contained palmitate side-chains, and amongst the 14 lipids that were negatively associated with GWG, seven were PC-O. Six of eight lipids found to be negatively associated with WL contained an 18:2 fatty acid side-chain. CONCLUSIONS: Maternal obesity was associated with characteristic urine and plasma metabolic phenotypes, and phospholipid profile was found to be associated with both GWG and postpartum WL in metabolically healthy pregnant women with overweight/obesity. Postpartu

Journal article

Calvo-Serra B, Maitre L, Lau C-HE, Siskos AP, Gutzkow KB, Andrusaityte S, Casas M, Cadiou S, Chatzi L, Gonzalez JR, Grazuleviciene R, McEachan R, Slama R, Vafeiadi M, Wright J, Coen M, Vrijheid M, Keun HC, Escaramis G, Bustamante Met al., 2020, Urinary metabolite quantitative trait loci in children and their interaction with dietary factors, HUMAN MOLECULAR GENETICS, Vol: 29, Pages: 3830-3844, ISSN: 0964-6906

Journal article

Robinson O, Lau C, 2020, Measuring biological age using metabolomics, Aging, Vol: 12, Pages: 22352-22353, ISSN: 1945-4589

Journal article

Robinson O, 2020, In utero and childhood exposure to tobacco smoke and multi-layer molecular signatures in children, BMC Medicine, Vol: 18, Pages: 1-19, ISSN: 1741-7015

BackgroundThe adverse health effects of early life exposure to tobacco smoking have been widely reported. In spite of this, the underlying molecular mechanisms of in utero and postnatal exposure to tobacco smoke are only partially understood. Here, we aimed to identify multi-layer molecular signatures associated with exposure to tobacco smoke in these two exposure windows.MethodsWe investigated the associations of maternal smoking during pregnancy and childhood secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure with molecular features measured in 1203 European children (mean age 8.1 years) from the Human Early Life Exposome (HELIX) project. Molecular features, covering 4 layers, included blood DNA methylation and gene and miRNA transcription, plasma proteins, and sera and urinary metabolites.ResultsMaternal smoking during pregnancy was associated with DNA methylation changes at 18 loci in child blood. DNA methylation at 5 of these loci was related to expression of the nearby genes. However, the expression of these genes themselves was only weakly associated with maternal smoking. Conversely, childhood SHS was not associated with blood DNA methylation or transcription patterns, but with reduced levels of several serum metabolites and with increased plasma PAI1 (plasminogen activator inhibitor-1), a protein that inhibits fibrinolysis. Some of the in utero and childhood smoking-related molecular marks showed dose-response trends, with stronger effects with higher dose or longer duration of the exposure.ConclusionIn this first study covering multi-layer molecular features, pregnancy and childhood exposure to tobacco smoke were associated with distinct molecular phenotypes in children. The persistent and dose-dependent changes in the methylome make CpGs good candidates to develop biomarkers of past exposure. Moreover, compared to methylation, the weak association of maternal smoking in pregnancy with gene expression suggests different reversal rates and a methylation-based memory to

Journal article

Wilson I, Dargue R, Zia R, Lau C, Nicholls AW, Dare T, Lee K, Rajiv J, Muireann Cet al., 2020, Metabolism and effects on endogenous metabolism of paracetamol (acetaminophen) in a porcine model of liver failure, Toxicological Sciences, Vol: 175, Pages: 87-97, ISSN: 1096-0929

The metabolic fate, toxicity and effects on endogenous metabolism of paracetamol (acetaminophen, APAP) in 22 female Landrace cross large white pigs were evaluated in a model of acute liver failure (ALF). Anaesthetized pigs were initially dosed at 250 mg/kg via an oroduodenal tube with APAP serum concentrations maintained above 300 mg/L using maintenance doses of 0.5-4g/h until ALF. Studies were undertaken to determine both the metabolic fate of APAP and its effects on the endogenous metabolic phenotype of ALF in using 1H NMR spectroscopy. Increased concentrations of citrate combined with pre-ALF increases in circulating lactate, pyruvate and alanine in plasma suggest mitochondrial dysfunction and a switch in hepatic energy metabolism to glycolysis in response to APAP treatment. A specific liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry assay was used to quantify APAP and metabolites. The major circulating and urinary metabolite of APAP was the phenolic glucuronide (APAP-G), followed by p-aminophenol glucuronide (PAP-G) formed from N-deacetylated APAP. The PAP produced by N-deacetylation was the likely cause of the methaemoglobinemia and kidney toxicity observed in this, and previous, studies in the pig. The phenolic sulfate of APAP, and the glutathione-derived metabolites of the drug were only found as minor components (with the cysteinyl conjugate detected but not the mercapturate). Given its low sulfation, combined with significant capacity for N-deacetylation the pig may represent a poor translational model for toxicology studies for compounds undergoing significant metabolism by sulfation, or which contain amide bonds which when hydrolysed to unmask an aniline lead to toxicity. However, the pig may provide a useful model where extensive amide hydrolysis is seen for drugs or environmental chemicals in humans, but not in e.g., the rat and dog which are the pre-clinical species normally employed for safety assessment.

Journal article

Graca G, Lau C-HE, Goncalves LG, 2020, Exploring Cancer Metabolism: Applications of Metabolomics and Metabolic Phenotyping in Cancer Research and Diagnostics, TUMOR MICROENVIRONMENT: THE MAIN DRIVER OF METABOLIC ADAPTATION, Vol: 1219, Pages: 367-385, ISSN: 0065-2598

Journal article

Gibson R, Lau C, Loo RL, Ebbels T, Chekmeneva E, Dyer A, Miura K, Ueshima H, Zhao L, Daviglus M, Stamler J, Van Horn L, Elliott P, Holmes E, Chan Qet al., 2019, The association of fish consumption and its urinary metabolites with cardiovascular risk factors: The International Study of Macro-/Micronutrients and Blood Pressure (INTERMAP), American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol: 111, Pages: 280-290, ISSN: 0002-9165

BackgroundResults from observational studies regarding associations between fish (including shellfish) intake and cardiovascular disease risk factors, including blood pressure (BP) and BMI, are inconsistent.ObjectiveTo investigate associations of fish consumption and associated urinary metabolites with BP and BMI in free-living populations.MethodsWe used cross-sectional data from the International Study of Macro-/Micronutrients and Blood Pressure (INTERMAP), including 4680 men and women (40–59 y) from Japan, China, the United Kingdom, and United States. Dietary intakes were assessed by four 24-h dietary recalls and BP from 8 measurements. Urinary metabolites (2 timed 24-h urinary samples) associated with fish intake acquired from NMR spectroscopy were identified. Linear models were used to estimate BP and BMI differences across categories of intake and per 2 SD higher intake of fish and its biomarkers.ResultsNo significant associations were observed between fish intake and BP. There was a direct association with fish intake and BMI in the Japanese population sample (P trend = 0.03; fully adjusted model). In Japan, trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO) and taurine, respectively, demonstrated area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) values of 0.81 and 0.78 in discriminating high against low fish intake, whereas homarine (a metabolite found in shellfish muscle) demonstrated an AUC of 0.80 for high/nonshellfish intake. Direct associations were observed between urinary TMAO and BMI for all regions except Japan (P < 0.0001) and in Western populations between TMAO and BP (diastolic blood pressure: mean difference 1.28; 95% CI: 0.55, 2.02 mmHg; P = 0.0006, systolic blood pressure: mean difference 1.67; 95% CI: 0.60, 2.73 mmHg; P = 0.002).ConclusionsUrinary TMAO showed a stronger association with fish intake in the Japanese compared with the Western population sample. Urinary TMAO was directly associated with BP in the Western but not the Japanese popula

Journal article

Lau CH, Siskos AP, Maitre L, Robinson O, Athersuch TJ, Want EJ, Urquiza J, Casas M, Vafeiadi M, Roumeliotaki T, McEachan RRC, Azad R, Haug LS, Meltzer HM, Andrusaityte S, Petraviciene I, Grazuleviciene R, Thomsen C, Wright J, Slama R, Chatzi L, Vrijheid M, Keun HC, Coen Met al., 2018, Determinants of the urinary and serum metabolome in children from six European populations, BMC Medicine, Vol: 16, ISSN: 1741-7015

BackgroundEnvironment and diet in early life can affect development and health throughout the life course. Metabolic phenotyping of urine and serum represents a complementary systems-wide approach to elucidate environment–health interactions. However, large-scale metabolome studies in children combining analyses of these biological fluids are lacking. Here, we sought to characterise the major determinants of the child metabolome and to define metabolite associations with age, sex, BMI and dietary habits in European children, by exploiting a unique biobank established as part of the Human Early-Life Exposome project ( phenotypes of matched urine and serum samples from 1192 children (aged 6–11) recruited from birth cohorts in six European countries were measured using high-throughput 1H nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and a targeted LC-MS/MS metabolomic assay (Biocrates AbsoluteIDQ p180 kit).ResultsWe identified both urinary and serum creatinine to be positively associated with age. Metabolic associations to BMI z-score included a novel association with urinary 4-deoxyerythronic acid in addition to valine, serum carnitine, short-chain acylcarnitines (C3, C5), glutamate, BCAAs, lysophosphatidylcholines (lysoPC a C14:0, lysoPC a C16:1, lysoPC a C18:1, lysoPC a C18:2) and sphingolipids (SM C16:0, SM C16:1, SM C18:1). Dietary-metabolite associations included urinary creatine and serum phosphatidylcholines (4) with meat intake, serum phosphatidylcholines (12) with fish, urinary hippurate with vegetables, and urinary proline betaine and hippurate with fruit intake. Population-specific variance (age, sex, BMI, ethnicity, dietary and country of origin) was better captured in the serum than in the urine profile; these factors explained a median of 9.0% variance amongst serum metabolites versus a median of 5.1% amongst urinary metabolites. Metabolic pathway correlations were identified, and concentrations of

Journal article

Maitre L, de Bont J, Casas M, Robinson O, Aasvang GM, Agier L, Andrušaitytė S, Ballester F, Basagaña X, Borràs E, Brochot C, Bustamante M, Carracedo A, de Castro M, Dedele A, Donaire-Gonzalez D, Estivill X, Evandt J, Fossati S, Giorgis-Allemand L, R Gonzalez J, Granum B, Grazuleviciene R, Bjerve Gützkow K, Småstuen Haug L, Hernandez-Ferrer C, Heude B, Ibarluzea J, Julvez J, Karachaliou M, Keun HC, Hjertager Krog N, Lau C-HE, Leventakou V, Lyon-Caen S, Manzano C, Mason D, McEachan R, Meltzer HM, Petraviciene I, Quentin J, Roumeliotaki T, Sabido E, Saulnier P-J, Siskos AP, Siroux V, Sunyer J, Tamayo I, Urquiza J, Vafeiadi M, van Gent D, Vives-Usano M, Waiblinger D, Warembourg C, Chatzi L, Coen M, van den Hazel P, Nieuwenhuijsen MJ, Slama R, Thomsen C, Wright J, Vrijheid Met al., 2018, Human Early Life Exposome (HELIX) study: a European population-based exposome cohort, BMJ Open, Vol: 8, ISSN: 2044-6055

Purpose Essential to exposome research is the collection of data on many environmental exposures from different domains in the same subjects. The aim of the Human Early Life Exposome (HELIX) study was to measure and describe multiple environmental exposures during early life (pregnancy and childhood) in a prospective cohort and associate these exposures with molecular omics signatures and child health outcomes. Here, we describe recruitment, measurements available and baseline data of the HELIX study populations.Participants The HELIX study represents a collaborative project across six established and ongoing longitudinal population-based birth cohort studies in six European countries (France, Greece, Lithuania, Norway, Spain and the UK). HELIX used a multilevel study design with the entire study population totalling 31 472 mother-child pairs, recruited during pregnancy, in the six existing cohorts (first level); a subcohort of 1301 mother-child pairs where biomarkers, omics signatures and child health outcomes were measured at age 6–11 years (second level) and repeat-sampling panel studies with around 150 children and 150 pregnant women aimed at collecting personal exposure data (third level).Findings to date Cohort data include urban environment, hazardous substances and lifestyle-related exposures for women during pregnancy and their offspring from birth until 6–11 years. Common, standardised protocols were used to collect biological samples, measure exposure biomarkers and omics signatures and assess child health across the six cohorts. Baseline data of the cohort show substantial variation in health outcomes and determinants between the six countries, for example, in family affluence levels, tobacco smoking, physical activity, dietary habits and prevalence of childhood obesity, asthma, allergies and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.Future plans HELIX study results will inform on the early life exposome and its association with molecul

Journal article

Athersuch TJ, Lau CH, Behrends V, Keun HCet al., 2018, CHAPTER 13: NMR Spectroscopy of Cell Culture, Tissues, and Other Biofluids, New Developments in NMR, Pages: 324-359, ISBN: 9781788011044

NMR spectroscopy can provide a wealth of information on cellular metabolism and is frequently used in metabolomics application that use cultured cells, tissues, and whole organisms. Central to these analyses are the protocols for sample harvest, which incorporate procedures for quenching metabolic processes to preserve samples in a state that is representative of their source. In this chapter, the main considerations are discussed with reference to literature exemplars. In the latter half of the chapter, less commonly studied biofluids that also have specific sample preparation requirements are discussed, with a focus on cerebrospinal fluid, faeces, bile, seminal fluid, and milk.

Book chapter

Maitre L, Lau C-HE, Vizcaino E, Robinson O, Casas M, Siskos AP, Want EJ, Athersuch T, Slama R, Vrijheid M, Keun HC, Coen Met al., 2017, Assessment of metabolic phenotypic variability in children's urine using H-1 NMR spectroscopy, Scientific Reports, Vol: 7, ISSN: 2045-2322

The application of metabolic phenotyping in clinical and epidemiological studies is limited by a poor understanding of inter-individual, intra-individual and temporal variability in metabolic phenotypes. Using 1H NMR spectroscopy we characterised short-term variability in urinary metabolites measured from 20 children aged 8–9 years old. Daily spot morning, night-time and pooled (50:50 morning and night-time) urine samples across six days (18 samples per child) were analysed, and 44 metabolites quantified. Intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC) and mixed effect models were applied to assess the reproducibility and biological variance of metabolic phenotypes. Excellent analytical reproducibility and precision was demonstrated for the 1H NMR spectroscopic platform (median CV 7.2%). Pooled samples captured the best inter-individual variability with an ICC of 0.40 (median). Trimethylamine, N-acetyl neuraminic acid, 3-hydroxyisobutyrate, 3-hydroxybutyrate/3-aminoisobutyrate, tyrosine, valine and 3-hydroxyisovalerate exhibited the highest stability with over 50% of variance specific to the child. The pooled sample was shown to capture the most inter-individual variance in the metabolic phenotype, which is of importance for molecular epidemiology study design. A substantial proportion of the variation in the urinary metabolome of children is specific to the individual, underlining the potential of such data to inform clinical and exposome studies conducted early in life.

Journal article

Lau C-HE, Tredwell GD, Ellis JK, Lam EW-F, Keun HCet al., 2017, Metabolomic characterisation of the effects of oncogenic PIK3CA transformation in a breast epithelial cell line, SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, Vol: 7, ISSN: 2045-2322

Somatic mutations in PIK3CA are frequently found in a number of human cancers, including breast cancer, altering cellular physiology and tumour sensitivity to chemotherapy. This renders PIK3CA an attractive molecular target for early detection and personalised therapy. Using 1H Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectroscopy (NMR) and Gas Chromatography – Mass Spectrometery (GC-MS) together with 13C stable isotope-labelled glucose and glutamine as metabolic tracers, we probed the phenotypic changes in metabolism following a single copy knock-in of mutant PIK3CA (H1047R) in the MCF10A cell line, an important cell model for studying oncogenic transformation in breast tissues. We observed effects in several metabolic pathways, including a decrease in glycerophosphocholine level together with increases in glutaminolysis, de novo fatty acid synthesis and pyruvate entry into the tricarboxylic acid cycle. Our findings highlight altered glyceroplipid metabolism and lipogenesis, as key metabolic phenotypes of mutant PIK3CA transformation that are recapitulated in the MCF10A cellular model.

Journal article

Itkonen HM, Brown M, Urbanucci A, Tredwell G, Lau CH, Barfeld S, Hart C, Guldvik IJ, Takhar M, Heemers HV, Erho N, Bloch K, Davicioni E, Derua R, Waelkens E, Mohler JL, Clarke N, Swinnen JV, Keun HC, Rekvig OP, Mills IGet al., 2017, Lipid degradation promotes prostate cancer cell survival, ONCOTARGET, Vol: 8, Pages: 38264-38275, ISSN: 1949-2553

Prostate cancer is the most common male cancer and androgen receptor (AR) is the major driver of the disease. Here we show that Enoyl-CoA delta isomerase 2 (ECI2) is a novel AR-target that promotes prostate cancer cell survival. Increased ECI2 expression predicts mortality in prostate cancer patients (p = 0.0086). ECI2 encodes for an enzyme involved in lipid metabolism, and we use multiple metabolite profiling platforms and RNA-seq to show that inhibition of ECI2 expression leads to decreased glucose utilization, accumulation of fatty acids and down-regulation of cell cycle related genes. In normal cells, decrease in fatty acid degradation is compensated by increased consumption of glucose, and here we demonstrate that prostate cancer cells are not able to respond to decreased fatty acid degradation. Instead, prostate cancer cells activate incomplete autophagy, which is followed by activation of the cell death response. Finally, we identified a clinically approved compound, perhexiline, which inhibits fatty acid degradation, and replicates the major findings for ECI2 knockdown. This work shows that prostate cancer cells require lipid degradation for survival and identifies a small molecule inhibitor with therapeutic potential.

Journal article

Koufaris C, Gallage S, Yang T, Lau CH, Valbuena GN, Keun HCet al., 2016, Suppression of MTHFD2 in MCF-7 Breast Cancer Cells Increases Glycolysis, Dependency on Exogenous Glycine, and Sensitivity to Folate Depletion, Journal of Proteome Research, Vol: 15, Pages: 2618-2625, ISSN: 1535-3907

Methylenetetrahydrofolate dehydrogenase (NAD(P)+ dependent) 2, methenyltetrahydrofolate cyclohydrolase (MTHFD2) is a mitochondrial enzyme involved in folate metabolism. A number of recent studies have highlighted this enzyme as being highly expressed in many solid tumors, including breast cancer, and to be correlated with poor survival. However, the metabolic functions of MTHFD2 in cancer cells have not been well-defined. To investigate the function of MTHFD2 in breast cancer cells, we generated and characterized MCF-7 cells with stable suppression of MTHFD2 expression using a combination of cellular assays and metabolic profiling. Loss of MTHFD2 caused MCF7 cells to become glycine auxotrophs, that is, reliant on exogenous glycine, and more sensitive to exogenous folate depletion. Another prominent metabolic alteration observed as a consequence of MTHFD2 suppression was a more glycolytic phenotype, consistent with widespread modifications of cellular metabolism. Collectively, these data suggest that targeting MTHFD2 activity is likely to influence multiple metabolic pathways in breast cancer and could be combined with a range of antimetabolite therapies.

Journal article

Keun H, Koufaris C, Ellis J, Yang T, benito mauricio A, tredwell G, lau C, nevedomskya E, pomyen Y, valbuena Get al., 2015, Systematic integration of molecular profiles identifies miR-22 as a regulator of lipid and folate metabolism in breast cancer cells, Oncogene, Vol: 35, Pages: 2766-2776, ISSN: 1476-5594

Dysregulated microRNA (miRNA) mediate malignant phenotypes, including metabolic reprogramming. By performing an integrative analysis of miRNA and metabolome data for the NCI-60 cell line panel, we identified an miRNA cluster strongly associated with both c-Myc expression and global metabolic variation. Within this cluster the cancer-associated and cardioprotective miR-22 was shown to repress fatty acid synthesis and elongation in tumour cells by targeting ATP citrate lyase and fatty acid elongase 6, as well as impairing mitochondrial one-carbon metabolism by suppression of methylene tetrahydrofolate dehydrogenase/cyclohydrolase. Across several data sets, expression of these target genes were associated with poorer outcomes in breast cancer patients. Importantly, a beneficial effect of miR-22 on clinical outcomes in breast cancer was shown to depend on the expression levels of the identified target genes, demonstrating the relevance of miRNA/mRNA interactions to disease progression in vivo. Our systematic analysis establishes miR-22 as a novel regulator of tumour cell metabolism, a function that could contribute to the role of this miRNA in cellular differentiation and cancer development. Moreover, we provide a paradigmatic example of effect modification in outcome analysis as a consequence of miRNA-directed gene targeting, a phenomenon that could be exploited to improve patient prognosis and treatment.

Journal article

Chan PH, Zhang WL, Lau C-H, Cheung CY, Keun HC, Tsim KWK, Lam Het al., 2014, Metabonomic analysis of water extracts from different angelica roots by H-1-nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, Molecules, Vol: 19, Pages: 3460-3470, ISSN: 1420-3049

Angelica Radix, the roots of the genus Angelica, has been used for more than 2,000 years as a traditional medicine in Eastern Asia. The Chinese Pharmacopoeia records more than 100 herbal formulae containing Angelica roots. There are two common sources of Angelica roots, Angelica sinensis from China and A. gigas from Korea. The two species of Angelica roots differ in their chemical compositions, pharmacological properties and clinical efficacy. 1H-NMR metabolic profiling has recently emerged as a promising quality control method for food and herbal chemistry. We explored the use of 1H-NMR metabolic profiling for the quality control of Angelica Radix. Unlike previous work, we performed the metabolic profiling on hot water extracts, so as to mimic the clinically relevant preparation method. Unsupervised principle component analyses of both the full spectral profile and a selection of targeted molecules revealed a clear differentiation of three types of Angelica roots. In addition, the levels of 13 common metabolites were measured. Statistically significant differences in the levels of glucose, fructose and threonine were found between different sources of Angelica. Ferulic acid, a marker commonly used to evaluate Angelica root, was detected in our samples, but the difference in ferulic acid levels between the samples was not statistically significant. Overall, we successfully applied 1H-NMR metabolic profiling with water extraction to discriminate all three sources of Angelica roots, and obtained quantitative information of many common metabolites.

Journal article

Stewart JD, Marchan R, Lesjak MS, Lambert J, Hergenroeder R, Ellis JK, Lau C-H, Keun HC, Schmitz G, Schiller J, Eibisch M, Hedberg C, Waldmann H, Lausch E, Tanner B, Sehouli J, Sagemueller J, Staude H, Steiner E, Hengstler JGet al., 2012, Choline-releasing glycerophosphodiesterase EDI3 drives tumor cell migration and metastasis, PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Vol: 109, Pages: 8155-8160, ISSN: 0027-8424

Journal article

Maitre L, Bustamante M, Hernández-Ferrer C, Thiel D, Lau C-H, Siskos A, Vives-Usano M, Ruiz-Arenas C, Robinson O, Mason D, Wright J, Cadiou S, Slama R, Heude B, Gallego-Paüls M, Casas M, Sunyer J, Papadopoulou EZ, Gutzkow KB, Andrusaityte S, Grazuleviciene R, Vafeiadi M, Chatzi L, Sakhi AK, Thomsen C, Tamayo I, Nieuwenhuijsen M, Urquiza J, Borràs E, Sabidó E, Quintela I, Carracedo Á, Estivill X, Coen M, González JR, Keun HC, Vrijheid Met al., Multi-omics signatures of the human early life exposome

<jats:title>Summary</jats:title><jats:p>Environmental exposures during early life play a critical role in life-course health, yet the molecular phenotypes underlying environmental effects on health are poorly understood. In the Human Early Life Exposome (HELIX) project, a multi-centre cohort of 1,301 mother-child pairs, we associated individual exposomes consisting of &gt;100 chemical, physical and lifestyle exposures assessed in pregnancy and childhood, with multi-omics profiles (methylome, transcriptome, metabolome and proteins) in childhood. We identified 1,170 associations, 249 in pregnancy and 921 in childhood, which revealed potential biological responses and sources of exposure. The methylome best captures the persistent influence of pregnancy exposures, including maternal smoking; while childhood exposures were associated with features from all omics layers, revealing novel signatures for indoor air quality, essential trace elements, endocrine disruptors and weather conditions. This study provides a unique resource (<jats:ext-link xmlns:xlink="" ext-link-type="uri" xlink:href=""></jats:ext-link>) to guide future investigation on the biological effects of the early life exposome.</jats:p>

Journal article

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