Plasma metabolites with mechanistic and clinical links to the neurovascular disease cavernous angioma

Commun Med (Lond). 2023 Mar 3;3(1):35. doi: 10.1038/s43856-023-00265-1.


Background: Cavernous angiomas (CAs) affect 0.5% of the population, predisposing to serious neurologic sequelae from brain bleeding. A leaky gut epithelium associated with a permissive gut microbiome, was identified in patients who develop CAs, favoring lipid polysaccharide producing bacterial species. Micro-ribonucleic acids along with plasma levels of proteins reflecting angiogenesis and inflammation were also previously correlated with CA and CA with symptomatic hemorrhage.

Methods: The plasma metabolome of CA patients and CA patients with symptomatic hemorrhage was assessed using liquid-chromatography mass spectrometry. Differential metabolites were identified using partial least squares-discriminant analysis (p < 0.05, FDR corrected). Interactions between these metabolites and the previously established CA transcriptome, microbiome, and differential proteins were queried for mechanistic relevance. Differential metabolites in CA patients with symptomatic hemorrhage were then validated in an independent, propensity matched cohort. A machine learning-implemented, Bayesian approach was used to integrate proteins, micro-RNAs and metabolites to develop a diagnostic model for CA patients with symptomatic hemorrhage.

Results: Here we identify plasma metabolites, including cholic acid and hypoxanthine distinguishing CA patients, while arachidonic and linoleic acids distinguish those with symptomatic hemorrhage. Plasma metabolites are linked to the permissive microbiome genes, and to previously implicated disease mechanisms. The metabolites distinguishing CA with symptomatic hemorrhage are validated in an independent propensity-matched cohort, and their integration, along with levels of circulating miRNAs, enhance the performance of plasma protein biomarkers (up to 85% sensitivity and 80% specificity).

Conclusions: Plasma metabolites reflect CAs and their hemorrhagic activity. A model of their multiomic integration is applicable to other pathologies.

Plain language summary

Cavernous angiomas (CAs) are clusters of abnormal blood vessels found in the brain or spinal cord. A blood test that could identify people with CAs that have recently bled would help determine who need surgery or closer medical monitoring. We looked at the blood of people with CAs to compare the levels of metabolites, a type of small molecule produced within the body, in those who had recently bled and those who had not. We found that some metabolites may contribute to CA and have an impact on CA symptoms. Monitoring the levels of these metabolites can determine whether there had been a recent bleed. In the future, drugs or other therapies could be developed that would block or change the levels of these molecules and possibly be used to treat CA disease.