Background: Cohort studies with metabolomics data are becoming more widespread, however, large-scale studies involving 10,000s of participants are still limited, especially in Asian populations. Therefore, we started the Tsuruoka Metabolomics Cohort Study enrolling 11,002 community-dwelling adults in Japan, and using capillary electrophoresis-mass spectrometry (CE-MS) and liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. The CE-MS method is highly amenable to absolute quantification of polar metabolites, however, its reliability for large-scale measurement is unclear. The aim of this study is to examine reproducibility and validity of large-scale CE-MS measurements. In addition, the study presents absolute concentrations of polar metabolites in human plasma, which can be used in future as reference ranges in a Japanese population.
Methods: Metabolomic profiling of 8,413 fasting plasma samples were completed using CE-MS, and 94 polar metabolites were structurally identified and quantified. Quality control (QC) samples were injected every ten samples and assessed throughout the analysis. Inter- and intra-batch coefficients of variation of QC and participant samples, and technical intraclass correlation coefficients were estimated. Passing-Bablok regression of plasma concentrations by CE-MS on serum concentrations by standard clinical chemistry assays was conducted for creatinine and uric acid.
Results and conclusions: In QC samples, coefficient of variation was less than 20% for 64 metabolites, and less than 30% for 80 metabolites out of the 94 metabolites. Inter-batch coefficient of variation was less than 20% for 81 metabolites. Estimated technical intraclass correlation coefficient was above 0.75 for 67 metabolites. The slope of Passing-Bablok regression was estimated as 0.97 (95% confidence interval: 0.95, 0.98) for creatinine and 0.95 (0.92, 0.96) for uric acid. Compared to published data from other large cohort measurement platforms, reproducibility of metabolites common to the platforms was similar to or better than in the other studies. These results show that our CE-MS platform is suitable for conducting large-scale epidemiological studies.