Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is characterized by the atherosclerotic narrowing of lower limb vessels, leading to ischemic muscle pain in older persons. Some patients experience progression to advanced chronic limb-threatening ischemia (CLTI) with poor long-term survivorship. Herein, we performed serum metabolomics to reveal the mechanisms of PAD pathophysiology that may improve its diagnosis and prognosis to CLTI complementary to the ankle-brachial index (ABI) and clinical presentations. Non-targeted metabolite profiling of serum was performed by multisegment injection-capillary electrophoresis-mass spectrometry (MSI-CE-MS) from age and sex-matched, non-diabetic, PAD participants who were recruited and clinically stratified based on the Rutherford classification into CLTI (n = 18) and intermittent claudication (IC, n = 20). Compared to the non-PAD controls (n = 20), PAD patients had lower serum concentrations of creatine, histidine, lysine, oxoproline, monomethylarginine, as well as higher circulating phenylacetylglutamine (p < 0.05). Importantly, CLTI cases exhibited higher serum concentrations of carnitine, creatinine, cystine and trimethylamine-N-oxide along with lower circulating fatty acids relative to well matched IC patients. Most serum metabolites associated with PAD progression were also correlated with ABI (r = ±0.24-0.59, p < 0.05), whereas the ratio of stearic acid to carnitine, and arginine to propionylcarnitine differentiated CLTI from IC with good accuracy (AUC = 0.87, p = 4.0 × 10-5). This work provides new biochemical insights into PAD progression for the early detection and surveillance of high-risk patients who may require peripheral vascular intervention to prevent amputation and premature death.
Keywords: critical limb-threatening ischemia; intermittent claudication; metabolomics; peripheral artery disease; serum.