Introduction - Biomarkers are needed in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) to help define disease activity and identify underlying pathogenic mechanisms. We hypothesized that serum metabolomics, which produces unique metabolite profiles, can aid in this search.
Objectives - The aim of this study was to characterize serum metabolomic profiles in patients with IBD, and to assess for differences between patients with ulcerative colitis (UC), Crohn's disease (CD), and non- IBD subjects.
Methods - Serum samples from 20 UC, 20 CD, and 20 non-IBD control subjects were obtained along with patient characteristics, including medication use and clinical disease activity. Non-targeted metabolomic profiling was performed using ultra-high performance liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (UPLC-MS/MS) optimized for basic or acidic species and hydrophilic interaction liquid chromatography (HILIC/UPLC-MS/MS).
Results - In total, 671 metabolites were identified. Comparing IBD and control subjects revealed 173 significantly altered metabolites (27 increased and 146 decreased). The majority of the alterations occurred in lipid-, amino acid-, and energy-related metabolites. Comparing only CD and control subjects revealed 286 significantly altered metabolites (54 increased and 232 decreased), whereas comparing UC and control subjects revealed only 5 significantly altered metabolites (all decreased). Hierarchal clustering using significant metabolites separated CD from UC and control subjects.
Conclusions - We demonstrate that a number of lipid-, amino acid-, and tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle- related metabolites were significantly altered in IBD patients, more specifically in CD. Therefore, alterations in lipid and amino acid metabolism and energy homeostasis may play a key role in the pathogenesis of CD.