Metabolomic characterization of nipple aspirate fluid by 1H NMR spectroscopy and GC-MS

Gregory D. Tredwell, Jessica A. Miller, H. H.Sherry Chow, Patricia A. Thompson, Hector C. Keun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Nipple aspirate fluid (NAF) is a noninvasively obtained biofluid from the duct openings of the breast. NAF components are constantly secreted, metabolized, and reabsorbed by the epithelial lining of the lactiferous ducts of the breast. NAF has been studied as a potential breast tissue surrogate for the discovery of novel breast cancer risk, early detection, and treatment response biomarkers. We report the first unsupervised metabolite characterization of nipple aspirate fluid using NMR and GC-MS using convenience samples previously collected from four premenopausal and four postmenopausal women. A total of 38 metabolites were identified using the two analytical techniques, including amino acids, organic acids, fatty acids, and carbohydrates. Analytical reproducibility of metabolites in NAF by GC-MS was high across different extraction and analysis days. Overall, 31 metabolites had a coefficient of variation below 20%. By GC-MS, there were eight metabolites unique to NAF, 19 unique to plasma, and 24 shared metabolites. Correlative analysis of shared metabolites between matched NAF and plasma samples from pre- and postmenopausal women shows almost no correlations, with the exception being lactic acid, which was significantly negatively correlated (R2 = 0.57; P = 0.03). These results suggest that NAF is metabolically distinct from plasma and that the application of metabolomic strategies may be useful for future studies investigating breast cancer risk and intervention response biomarkers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)883-889
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Proteome Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 7 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • GC-MS
  • NMR
  • breast cancer
  • metabolomics
  • metabonomics
  • nipple aspirate fluid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • General Chemistry


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