Integration of metabolomics and transcriptomics reveals novel biomarkers in the blood for tuberculosis diagnosis in children

Sci Rep. 2020 Nov 11;10(1):19527. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-75513-8.


Pediatric tuberculosis (TB) remains a major global health problem. Improved pediatric diagnostics using readily available biosources are urgently needed. We used liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry to analyze plasma metabolite profiles of Indian children with active TB (n = 16) and age- and sex-matched, Mycobacterium tuberculosis-exposed but uninfected household contacts (n = 32). Metabolomic data were integrated with whole blood transcriptomic data for each participant at diagnosis and throughout treatment for drug-susceptible TB. A decision tree algorithm identified 3 metabolites that correctly identified TB status at distinct times during treatment. N-acetylneuraminate achieved an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) of 0.66 at diagnosis. Quinolinate achieved an AUC of 0.77 after 1 month of treatment, and pyridoxate achieved an AUC of 0.87 after successful treatment completion. A set of 4 metabolites (gamma-glutamylalanine, gamma-glutamylglycine, glutamine, and pyridoxate) identified treatment response with an AUC of 0.86. Pathway enrichment analyses of these metabolites and corresponding transcriptional data correlated N-acetylneuraminate with immunoregulatory interactions between lymphoid and non-lymphoid cells, and correlated pyridoxate with p53-regulated metabolic genes and mitochondrial translation. Our findings shed new light on metabolic dysregulation in children with TB and pave the way for new diagnostic and treatment response markers in pediatric TB.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Antitubercular Agents / therapeutic use
  • Biomarkers / blood*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Family Characteristics
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods
  • Metabolomics / methods
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Tuberculosis / blood*
  • Tuberculosis / diagnosis*
  • Tuberculosis / drug therapy*


  • Antitubercular Agents
  • Biomarkers