Alterations in Metabolome and Microbiome Associated with an Early Stress Stage in Male Wistar Rats: A Multi-Omics Approach

Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Nov 29;22(23):12931. doi: 10.3390/ijms222312931.


Stress disorders have dramatically increased in recent decades becoming the most prevalent psychiatric disorder in the United States and Europe. However, the diagnosis of stress disorders is currently based on symptom checklist and psychological questionnaires, thus making the identification of candidate biomarkers necessary to gain better insights into this pathology and its related metabolic alterations. Regarding the identification of potential biomarkers, omic profiling and metabolic footprint arise as promising approaches to recognize early biochemical changes in such disease and provide opportunities for the development of integrative candidate biomarkers. Here, we studied plasma and urine metabolites together with metagenomics in a 3 days Chronic Unpredictable Mild Stress (3d CUMS) animal approach that aims to focus on the early stress period of a well-established depression model. The multi-omics integration showed a profile composed by a signature of eight plasma metabolites, six urine metabolites and five microbes. Specifically, threonic acid, malic acid, alpha-ketoglutarate, succinic acid and cholesterol were proposed as key metabolites that could serve as key potential biomarkers in plasma metabolome of early stages of stress. Such findings targeted the threonic acid metabolism and the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle as important pathways in early stress. Additionally, an increase in opportunistic microbes as virus of the Herpesvirales was observed in the microbiota as an effect of the primary stress stages. Our results provide an experimental biochemical characterization of the early stage of CUMS accompanied by a subsequent omic profiling and a metabolic footprinting that provide potential candidate biomarkers.

Keywords: animal model; biomarker; chronic unpredictable mild stress; early stress; energy disruption; metabolome; microbiome.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Biomarkers / urine
  • Male
  • Metabolome*
  • Microbiota*
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Stress, Psychological / metabolism*
  • Stress, Psychological / microbiology


  • Biomarkers