Metabolomics applied to urine samples in childhood asthma; differentiation between asthma phenotypes and identification of relevant metabolites

Biomed Chromatogr. 2012 Jan;26(1):89-94. doi: 10.1002/bmc.1631. Epub 2011 Apr 4.


Asthma is a heterogeneous disorder and one of the most common chronic childhood diseases. An improved characterization of asthma phenotypes would be invaluable for the understanding of the pathogenic mechanisms and the correct treatment of this disease. The aim of this pilot study was to explore the potential of metabolomics applied to urine samples in characterizing asthma, and to identify the most representative metabolites. Urine samples of 41 atopic asthmatic children (further subdivided in sub-groups according to the symptoms) and 12 age-matched controls were analyzed. Untargeted metabolic profiles were collected by LC-MS, and studied by multivariate analysis. The group of the asthmatics was differentiated by a model that proved to be uncorrelated with the chronic assumption of controller drugs on the part of the patients. The distinct sub-groups were also appropriately modeled. Further investigations revealed a reduced excretion of urocanic acid, methyl-imidazoleacetic acid and a metabolite resembling the structure of an Ile-Pro fragment in the asthmatics. The meaning of these findings was discussed and mainly correlated with the modulation of immunity in asthma. Metabolic profiles from urines have revealed the potential to characterize asthma and enabled the identification of metabolites that may have a role in the underlying inflammation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / classification
  • Asthma / urine*
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Biomarkers / urine
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Dipeptides
  • Humans
  • Imidazoles / urine
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Metabolomics / methods
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Urocanic Acid / urine


  • Biomarkers
  • Dipeptides
  • Imidazoles
  • methylimidazoleacetic acid
  • Urocanic Acid