NMR-based metabolomics has shown considerable promise in disease diagnosis and biomarker discovery because it allows one to nondestructively identify and quantify large numbers of novel metabolite biomarkers in both biofluids and tissues. Precise metabolite quantification is a prerequisite to move any chemical biomarker or biomarker panel from the lab to the clinic. Among the biofluids commonly used for disease diagnosis and prognosis, urine has several advantages. It is abundant, sterile, and easily obtained, needs little sample preparation, and does not require invasive medical procedures for collection. Furthermore, urine captures and concentrates many "unwanted" or "undesirable" compounds throughout the body, providing a rich source of potentially useful disease biomarkers; however, incredible variation in urine chemical concentrations makes analysis of urine and identification of useful urinary biomarkers by NMR challenging. We discuss a number of the most significant issues regarding NMR-based urinary metabolomics with specific emphasis on metabolite quantification for disease biomarker applications and propose data collection and instrumental recommendations regarding NMR pulse sequences, acceptable acquisition parameter ranges, relaxation effects on quantitation, proper handling of instrumental differences, sample preparation, and biomarker assessment.
Keywords: NMR; disease; metabolites; quantification; quantitative analysis; recommendations; standardization; urine.