Metabolomic profiling of plasma from melioidosis patients using UHPLC-QTOF MS reveals novel biomarkers for diagnosis

Susanna K.P. Lau, Kim Chung Lee, George C.S. Lo, Vanessa S.Y. Ding, Wang Ngai Chow, Tony Y.H. Ke, Shirly O.T. Curreem, Kelvin K.W. To, Deborah T.Y. Ho, Siddharth Sridhar, Sally C.Y. Wong, Jasper F.W. Chan, Ivan F.N. Hung, Kong Hung Sze, Ching Wan Lam, Kwok Yung Yuen, Patrick C.Y. Woo

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


To identify potential biomarkers for improving diagnosis of melioidosis, we compared plasma metabolome profiles of melioidosis patients compared to patients with other bacteremia and controls without active infection, using ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization-quadruple time-of-flight mass spectrometry. Principal component analysis (PCA) showed that the metabolomic profiles of melioidosis patients are distinguishable from bacteremia patients and controls. Using multivariate and univariate analysis, 12 significant metabolites from four lipid classes, acylcarnitine (n = 6), lysophosphatidylethanolamine (LysoPE) (n = 3), sphingomyelins (SM) (n = 2) and phosphatidylcholine (PC) (n = 1), with significantly higher levels in melioidosis patients than bacteremia patients and controls, were identified. Ten of the 12 metabolites showed area-under-receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) >0.80 when compared both between melioidosis and bacteremia patients, and between melioidosis patients and controls. SM(d18:2/16:0) possessed the largest AUC when compared, both between melioidosis and bacteremia patients (AUC 0.998, sensitivity 100% and specificity 91.7%), and between melioidosis patients and controls (AUC 1.000, sensitivity 96.7% and specificity 100%). Our results indicate that metabolome profiling might serve as a promising approach for diagnosis of melioidosis using patient plasma, with SM(d18:2/16:0) representing a potential biomarker. Since the 12 metabolites were related to various pathways for energy and lipid metabolism, further studies may reveal their possible role in the pathogenesis and host response in melioidosis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number307
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 27 Feb 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Biomarkers
  • Burkholderia pseudomallei
  • Melioidosis
  • Metabolomics
  • Plasma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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