Noninvasive human metabolome analysis for differential diagnosis of inborn errors of metabolism

J Chromatogr B Analyt Technol Biomed Life Sci. 2007 Aug;855(1):42-50. doi: 10.1016/j.jchromb.2007.03.031. Epub 2007 Mar 31.


Early diagnosis and treatment are critical for patients with inborn errors of metabolism (IEMs). For most IEMs, the clinical presentations are variable and nonspecific, and routine laboratory tests do not indicate the etiology of the disease. A diagnostic procedure using highly sensitive gas chromatography-mass spectrometric urine metabolome analysis is useful for screening and chemical diagnosis of IEM. Metabolite analysis can comprehensively detect enzyme dysfunction caused by a variety of abnormalities. The mutations may be uncommon or unknown. The lack of coenzymes or activators and the presence of post-translational modification defects and subcellular localization abnormalities are also reflected in the metabolome. This noninvasive and feasible urine metabolome analysis, which uses urease-pretreatment, partial adoption of stable isotope dilution, and GC/MS, can be used to detect more than 130 metabolic disorders. It can also detect an acquired abnormal metabolic profile. The metabolic profiles for two cases of non-inherited phenylketonuria are shown. In this review, chemical diagnoses of hyperphenylalaninemia, phenylketonuria, hyperprolinemia, and lactic acidemia, and the differential diagnosis of beta-ureidopropionase deficiency and primary hyperammonemias including ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency and carbamoylphosphate synthetase deficiency are described.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / urine
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Humans
  • Metabolism, Inborn Errors / diagnosis*
  • Phenylketonurias / diagnosis
  • Proteome / analysis


  • Biomarkers
  • Proteome