Multi-platform metabolomics assays to study the responsiveness of the human plasma and lung lavage metabolome

University dissertation from Umeå : Umeå University

Abstract: Metabolomics as a field has been used to track changes and perturbations in the human body by investigating metabolite profiles indicating the change of metabolite levels over time and in response to different challenges. In this thesis work, the main focus was on applying multiplatform-metabolomics to study the human metabolome following exposure to perturbations, such as diet (in the form of a challenge meal) and exhaust emissions (air pollution exposure in a controlled setting). The cutting-edge analytical platforms used for this purpose were nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), as well as gas chromatography (GC) and liquid chromatography (LC) coupled to mass spectrometry (MS). Each platform offered unique characterization features, allowing detection and identification of a specific range of metabolites. The use of multiplatform-metabolomics was found to enhance the metabolome coverage and to provide complementary findings that enabled a better understanding of the biochemical processes reflected by the metabolite profiles. Using non-targeted analysis, a wide range of unknown metabolites in plasma were identified during the postprandial stage after a well-defined challenge meal (in Paper I). In addition, a considerable number of metabolites were detected and identified in lung lavage fluid after biodiesel exhaust exposure compared to filtered air exposure (in Paper II). In parallel, using targeted analysis, both lung lavage and plasma fatty acid metabolites were detected and quantified in response to filtered air and biodiesel exhaust exposure (in Paper III and IV).Data processing of raw data followed by data analysis, using both univariate and multivariate methods, enabled changes occurring in metabolites levels to be screened and investigated. For the initial pilot postprandial study, the aim was to investigate the plasma metabolome response after a well-defined meal during the postprandial stage for two types of diet. It was found that independent of the background diet type, levels of metabolites returned to their baseline levels after three hours. This finding was taken into consideration for the biodiesel exhaust exposures studies, designed to limit the impact of dietary effects. Both targeted and non-targeted approaches resulted in important findings. For instance, different metabolite profiles were detected in bronchial wash (BW) compared to bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid with mainly NMR and LC-MS. Furthermore, biodiesel exhaust exposure resulted in different metabolite profiles as observed by GC-MS, especially in BAL. In addition, fatty acid metabolites in BW, BAL, and plasma were shown to be responsive to biodiesel exhaust exposure, as measured by a targeted LC-MS/MS protocol. In summary, the new analytical methods developed to investigate the responsiveness of the human plasma and lung lavage metabolome proved to be useful in an analytical perspective, and provided important biological findings. However, further studies are needed to validate these results.