Lindahl A, Forshed J, Nordström A
Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 478 (3) 1472-1477 [2016-09-23; online 2016-08-28]
Untargeted metabolic profiling has generated large activity in the field of clinical biomarker discovery. Yet, no clinically approved metabolite biomarkers have emerged with failure in validation phases often being a reason. To investigate why, we have applied untargeted metabolic profiling in a retrospective cohort of serum samples representing non-related diseases. Age and gender matched samples from patients diagnosed with pneumonia, congestive heart failure, lymphoma and healthy controls were subject to comprehensive metabolic profiling using ultra-performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (UPLC-MS). The metabolic profile of each diagnosis was compared to the healthy control group and significant metabolites were filtered out using t-test with FDR correction. Metabolites found to be significant between each disease and healthy controls were compared and analyzed for overlap. Results show that despite differences in etiology and clinical disease presentation, the fraction of metabolites with an overlap between two or more diseases was 61%. A majority of these metabolites can be associated with immune responses thus representing non-disease specific events. We show that metabolic serum profiles from patients representing non-related diseases display very similar metabolic differences when compared to healthy controls. Many of the metabolites discovered as disease specific in this study have further been associated with other diseases in the literature. Based on our findings we suggest non-related disease controls in metabolomics biomarker discovery studies to increase the chances of a successful validation and future clinical applications.