Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) is the most common inherited kidney disease and affects 1 in 1,000 individuals. Ultrasound is most often used to diagnose ADPKD; such a modality is only useful late in the disease after macroscopic cysts are present. There is accumulating evidence suggesting that there are common cellular and molecular mechanisms responsible for cystogenesis in human and murine PKD regardless of the genes mutated, and, in the case of complex metabolomic analysis, the use of a mouse model has distinct advantages for proof of principle over a human study. Therefore, in this study we utilized a urinary metabolomics-based investigation using gas chromatography-time of flight mass spectrometry to demonstrate that the cystic mouse can be discriminated from its wild-type counterpart by urine analysis alone. At day 26 of life, before there is serological evidence of kidney dysfunction, affected mice are distinguishable by urine metabolomic analysis; this finding persists through 45 days until 64 days, at which time body weight differences confound the results. Using functional score analysis and the KEGG pathway database, we identify several biologically relevant metabolic pathways which are altered very early in this disease, the most highly represented being the purine and galactose metabolism pathways. In addition, we identify several specific candidate biomarkers, including allantoic acid and adenosine, which are augmented in the urine of young cystic mice. These markers and pathway components, once extended to human disease, may prove useful as a noninvasive means of diagnosing cystic kidney diseases and to suggest novel therapeutic approaches. Thus, urine metabolomics has great diagnostic potential for cystic renal disorders and deserves further study.
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