Theranostics 2014; 4(9):953-959. doi:10.7150/thno.9265

Short Research Communication

Hair Metabolomics: Identification of Fetal Compromise Provides Proof of Concept for Biomarker Discovery

Karolina Sulek1,2✉*, Ting-Li Han1,2*, Silas Granato Villas-Boas2, David Scott Wishart3, Shu-E Soh4,5, Kenneth Kwek6, Peter David Gluckman1,7, Yap-Seng Chong7,8, Louise Claire Kenny9, Philip Newton Baker1

1. The Liggins Institute, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
2. School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
3. Departments of Biological Sciences and Computing Science, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada
4. Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, National University of Singapore, National University Health System, Singapore
5. Department of Paediatrics, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, National University Health System, Singapore
6. Department of Maternal and Fetal Medicine, KK Women's and Children's' Hospital, Singapore
7. Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences, Agency for Science, Technology and Research, Singapore
8. Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, National University Health System, Singapore
9. The Irish Centre for Fetal and Neonatal Translational Research, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland
* Authors contributed equally.

Abstract

Analysis of the human metabolome has yielded valuable insights into health, disease and toxicity. However, the metabolic profile of complex biological fluids such as blood is highly dynamic and this has limited the discovery of robust biomarkers. Hair grows relatively slowly, and both endogenous compounds and environmental exposures are incorporated from blood into hair during growth, which reflects the average chemical composition over several months.

We used hair samples to study the metabolite profiles of women with pregnancies complicated by fetal growth restriction (FGR) and healthy matched controls. We report the use of GC-MS metabolite profiling of hair samples for biomarker discovery. Unsupervised statistical analysis showed complete discrimination of FGR from controls based on hair composition alone. A predictive model combining 5 metabolites produced an area under the receiver-operating curve of 0.998.

This is the first study of the metabolome of human hair and demonstrates that this biological material contains robust biomarkers, which may lead to the development of a sensitive diagnostic tool for FGR, and perhaps more importantly, to stable biomarkers for a range of other diseases.

Keywords: metabolite profiling, hair, biomarker, fetal growth restriction, GC-MS.

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How to cite this article:
Sulek K, Han TL, Villas-Boas SG, Wishart DS, Soh SE, Kwek K, Gluckman PD, Chong YS, Kenny LC, Baker PN. Hair Metabolomics: Identification of Fetal Compromise Provides Proof of Concept for Biomarker Discovery. Theranostics 2014; 4(9):953-959. doi:10.7150/thno.9265. Available from http://www.thno.org/v04p0953.htm