Background: Metabolic profiling holds promise with regard to deepening our understanding of infection biology and disease states. The objectives of our study were to assess the global metabolic responses to an Echinostoma caproni infection in the mouse, and to compare the biomarkers extracted from different biofluids (plasma, stool, and urine) in terms of characterizing acute and chronic stages of this intestinal fluke infection.
Methodology/principal findings: Twelve female NMRI mice were infected with 30 E. caproni metacercariae each. Plasma, stool, and urine samples were collected at 7 time points up to day 33 post-infection. Samples were also obtained from non-infected control mice at the same time points and measured using (1)H nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. Spectral data were subjected to multivariate statistical analyses. In plasma and urine, an altered metabolic profile was already evident 1 day post-infection, characterized by reduced levels of plasma choline, acetate, formate, and lactate, coupled with increased levels of plasma glucose, and relatively lower concentrations of urinary creatine. The main changes in the urine metabolic profile started at day 8 post-infection, characterized by increased relative concentrations of trimethylamine and phenylacetylglycine and lower levels of 2-ketoisocaproate and showed differentiation over the course of the infection.
Conclusion/significance: The current investigation is part of a broader NMR-based metabonomics profiling strategy and confirms the utility of this approach for biomarker discovery. In the case of E. caproni, a diagnosis based on all three biofluids would deliver the most comprehensive fingerprint of an infection. For practical purposes, however, future diagnosis might aim at a single biofluid, in which case urine would be chosen for further investigation, based on quantity of biomarkers, ease of sampling, and the degree of differentiation from the non-infected control group.