An oral sorbent AST-120 composed of spherical porous carbon particles has superior adsorption ability for certain small-molecular-weight organic compounds known to accumulate in patients with chronic renal failure (CRF). A metabolomic approach was applied to search for uremic toxins as possible indicators of the effect of AST-120. Serum metabolites in normal and CRF rats before and after administration of AST-120 for 3 days were analyzed by liquid chromatography/electrospray ionization-tandem mass spectrometry (LC/ESI-MS/MS) and principal component analysis. Further, serum and urine levels of the indicators were quantified by selected reaction monitoring of LC/ESI-MS/MS. Indoxyl sulfate was the first principal serum metabolite, which could differentiate CRF from both normal and AST-120-administered CRF rats, followed by hippuric acid, phenyl sulfate and 4-ethylphenyl sulfate. CRF rats showed increased serum levels of indoxyl sulfate, hippuric acid, phenyl sulfate, 4-ethylphenyl sulfate and p-cresyl sulfate. Administration of AST-120 for 3 days to the CRF rats reduced the serum and urine levels of these metabolites. In conclusion, indoxyl sulfate is the best indicator of the effect of AST-120 in CRF rats. Hippuric acid, phenyl sulfate and 4-ethylphenyl sulfate are suggested as the additional indicators. 4-Ethylphenyl sulfate is a newly identified uremic substance.
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