A comprehensive urinary metabolomic approach for identifying kidney cancerr

Tobias Kind, Vladimir Tolstikov, Oliver Fiehn, Robert H Weiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

376 Scopus citations


The diagnosis of cancer by examination of the urine has the potential to improve patient outcomes by means of earlier detection. Due to the fact that the urine contains metabolic signatures of many biochemical pathways, this biofluid is ideally suited for metabolomic analysis, especially involving diseases of the kidney and urinary system. In this pilot study, we test three independent analytical techniques for suitability for detection of renal cell carcinoma (RCC) in urine of affected patients. Hydrophilic interaction chromatography (HILIC-LC-MS), reversed-phase ultra performance liquid chromatography (RP-UPLC-MS), and gas chromatography time-of-flight mass spectrometry (GC-TOF-MS) all were used as complementary separation techniques. The combination of these techniques is best suited to cover a very large part of the urine metabolome by enabling the detection of both lipophilic and hydrophilic metabolites present therein. In this study, it is demonstrated that sample pretreatment with urease dramatically alters the metabolome composition apart from removal of urea. Two new freely available peak alignment methods, MZmine and XCMS, are used for peak detection and retention time alignment. The results are analyzed by a feature selection algorithm with subsequent univariate analysis of variance (ANOVA) and a multivariate partial least squares (PLS) approach. From more than 2000 mass spectral features detected in the urine, we identify several significant components that lead to discrimination between RCC patients and controls despite the relatively small sample size. A feature selection process condensed the significant features to less than 30 components in each of the data sets. In future work, these potential biomarkers will be further validated with a larger patient cohort. Such investigation will likely lead to clinically applicable assays for earlier diagnosis of RCC, as well as other malignancies, and thereby improved patient prognosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)185-195
Number of pages11
JournalAnalytical Biochemistry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 15 2007


  • Chromatography
  • Kidney cancer
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Metabolomics
  • Urine analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Biophysics
  • Molecular Biology


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