Metabolites.: co-auth.: PAF

 2018 Jun 15;8(2). pii: E39. doi: 10.3390/metabo8020039.

LC-HRMS Metabolomics for Untargeted Diagnostic Screening in Clinical Laboratories: A Feasibility Study.


Today’s high-resolution mass spectrometers (HRMS) allow bioanalysts to perform untargeted/global determinations that can reveal unexpected compounds or concentrations in a patient’s sample. This could be performed for preliminary diagnosis attempts when usual diagnostic processes and targeted determinations fail. We have evaluated an untargeted diagnostic screening (UDS) procedure. UDS is a metabolome analysis that compares one sample (e.g., a patient) with control samples (a healthy population). Using liquid chromatography (LC)-HRMS full-scan analysis of human serum extracts and unsupervised data treatment, we have compared individual samples that were spiked with one xenobiotic or a higher level of one endogenous compound with control samples. After the use of different filters that drastically reduced the number of metabolites detected, the spiked compound was eventually revealed in each test sample and ranked. The proposed UDS procedure appears feasible and reliable to reveal unexpected xenobiotics (toxicology) or higher concentrations of endogenous metabolites. HRMS-based untargeted approaches could be useful as preliminary diagnostic screening when canonical processes do not reveal disease etiology nor establish a clear diagnosis and could reduce misdiagnosis. On the other hand, the risk of overdiagnosis of this approach should be reduced with mandatory biomedical interpretation of the patient’s UDS results and with confirmatory targeted and quantitative determinations.


clinical/biomedical analysis; diagnostic; forensic/toxicology; high resolution mass spectrometry; liquid chromatography; metabolomics; screening; untargeted

PMID: 29914076