Sphingolipid, fatty acid and phospholipid metabolites are associated with disease severity and mTOR inhibition in lymphangioleiomyomatosis.
Lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM) is a rare multisystem disease almost exclusively affecting women which causes loss of lung function, lymphatic abnormalities and angiomyolipomas. LAM occurs sporadically and in people with tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC). Loss of TSC gene function leads to dysregulated mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) signalling. As mTOR is a regulator of lipid and nucleotide synthesis, we hypothesised that the serum metabolome would be altered in LAM and related to disease severity and activity.Ultrahigh performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectroscopy was used to examine the serum metabolome of 79 closely phenotyped women with LAM, including 29 receiving treatment with an mTOR inhibitor and 43 healthy control women.Sphingolipid, fatty acid and phospholipid metabolites were associated with FEV1 in women with LAM (eg, behenoyl sphingomyelin adjusted (adj.) p=8.10 × 10-3). Those with higher disease-burden scores had abnormalities in fatty acid, phospholipid and lysolipids. Rate of loss of FEV1 was associated with differences in acyl-carnitine, acyl-glycines, acyl-glutamine, fatty acids, endocanbinoids and sphingolipids (eg, myristoleoylcarnitine adj. p=0.07). In TSC-LAM, rapamycin affected modules of interrelated metabolites which comprised linoleic acid, the tricarboxylic acid cycle, aminoacyl-tRNA biosynthesis, cysteine, methionine, arginine and proline metabolism. Metabolomic pathway analysis within modules reiterated the importance of glycerophospholipid metabolites (adj. p=0.047).Women with LAM have altered lipid metabolism. The associations between these metabolites, multiple markers of disease activity and their potential biological roles in cell survival and signalling, suggest that lipid species may be both disease-relevant biomarkers and potential therapeutic targets for LAM.