Targeted urine metabolomics with a graphical reporting tool for rapid diagnosis of inborn errors of metabolism

L.K.M. Steinbusch, P. Wang, H.W.A.H. Waterval, F.A.P.M. Stassen, K.L.M. Coene, U.F.H. Engelke, D.D.J. Habets, J. Bierau, I.M.L.W. Korver-Keularts*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The current diagnostic work-up of inborn errors of metabolism (IEM) is rapidly moving toward integrative analytical approaches. We aimed to develop an innovative, targeted urine metabolomics (TUM) screening procedure to accelerate the diagnosis of patients with IEM. Urinary samples, spiked with three stable isotope-labeled internal standards, were analyzed for 258 diagnostic metabolites with an ultra-high performance liquid chromatography-quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry (UHPLC-QTOF-MS) configuration run in positive and negative ESI modes. The software automatically annotated peaks, corrected for peak overloading, and reported peak quality and shifting. Robustness and reproducibility were satisfactory for most metabolites. Z-scores were calculated against four age-group-matched control cohorts. Disease phenotypes were scored based on database metabolite matching. Graphical reports comprised a needle plot, annotating abnormal metabolites, and a heatmap showing the prioritized disease phenotypes. In the clinical validation, we analyzed samples of 289 patients covering 78 OMIM phenotypes from 12 of the 15 society for the study of inborn errors of metabolism (SSIEM) disease groups. The disease groups include disorders in the metabolism of amino acids, fatty acids, ketones, purines and pyrimidines, carbohydrates, porphyrias, neurotransmitters, vitamins, cofactors, and creatine. The reporting tool easily and correctly diagnosed most samples. Even subtle aberrant metabolite patterns as seen in mild multiple acyl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiency (GAII) and maple syrup urine disease (MSUD) were correctly called without difficulty. Others, like creatine transporter deficiency, are illustrative of IEM that remain difficult to diagnose. We present TUM as a powerful diagnostic screening tool that merges most urinary diagnostic assays expediting the diagnostics for patients suspected of an IEM.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1113-1123
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Inherited Metabolic Disease
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2021


  • diagnostics
  • inborn error of metabolism
  • mass spectrometry
  • urine metabolomics
  • targeted


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