Urinary globotriaosylsphingosine-related biomarkers for Fabry disease targeted by metabolomics

Anal Chem. 2012 Mar 20;84(6):2745-53. doi: 10.1021/ac203433e. Epub 2012 Feb 28.


Fabry disease is a lysosomal storage disorder caused by deficiency of α-galactosidase A, resulting in glycosphingolipid accumulation in organs and tissues, including plasma and urine. Two disease-specific Fabry biomarkers have been identified and quantified in plasma and urine: globotriaosylceramide (Gb(3)) and globotriaosylsphingosine (lyso-Gb(3)). The search continues for biomarkers that might be reliable indicators of disease severity and response to treatment. The main objective of this study was to target other urinary biomarkers using a time-of-flight mass spectrometry metabolomic approach. Urinary metabolites of 63 untreated Fabry patients and 59 controls were analyzed. A multivariate statistical analysis performed on a subset of male samples revealed seven novel Fabry biomarkers in urine, all lyso-Gb(3) analogues having modified sphingosine moieties. The empirical formulas of the sphingosine modifications were determined by exact mass measurements (- C(2)H(4), - C(2)H(4) + O, - H(2), - H(2) + O, + O, + H(2)O(2), + H(2)O(3)). We evaluated the relative concentration of lyso-Gb(3) and its seven analogues by measuring area counts for each analogue in all Fabry patients. All samples were normalized to creatinine. We found higher concentrations for males with Fabry disease compared to females. None of these biomarkers were detected in controls. To our knowledge, this is the first time that lyso-Gb(3)-related Fabry disease biomarkers are detected in urine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Biomarkers / urine
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Creatine / metabolism
  • Creatine / urine
  • Data Mining
  • Fabry Disease / metabolism*
  • Fabry Disease / urine*
  • Female
  • Glycolipids / metabolism
  • Glycolipids / urine*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Metabolomics / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Electrospray Ionization / methods
  • Sphingolipids / metabolism
  • Sphingolipids / urine*
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers
  • Glycolipids
  • Sphingolipids
  • globotriaosyl lysosphingolipid
  • Creatine