NMR-based newborn urine screening for optimized detection of inherited errors of metabolism

Sci Rep. 2019 Sep 10;9(1):13067. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-49685-x.


Inborn errors of metabolism (IEMs) are rare diseases produced by the accumulation of abnormal amounts of metabolites, toxic to the newborn. When not detected on time, they can lead to irreversible physiological and psychological sequels or even demise. Metabolomics has emerged as an efficient and powerful tool for IEM detection in newborns, children, and adults with late onset. In here, we screened urine samples from a large set of neonates (470 individuals) from a homogeneous population (Basque Country), for the identification of congenital metabolic diseases using NMR spectroscopy. Absolute quantification allowed to derive a probability function for up to 66 metabolites that adequately describes their normal concentration ranges in newborns from the Basque Country. The absence of another 84 metabolites, considered abnormal, was routinely verified in the healthy newborn population and confirmed for all but 2 samples, of which one showed toxic concentrations of metabolites associated to ketosis and the other one a high trimethylamine concentration that strongly suggested an episode of trimethylaminuria. Thus, a non-invasive and readily accessible urine sample contains enough information to assess the potential existence of a substantial number (>70) of IEMs in newborns, using a single, automated and standardized 1H- NMR-based analysis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy*
  • Metabolism, Inborn Errors / diagnosis*
  • Metabolism, Inborn Errors / urine*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Urinalysis / methods*


  • Biomarkers