Untargeted metabolic profiling of saliva by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry for the identification of potential diagnostic biomarkers of asthma

Current clinical tests employed to diagnose asthma are inaccurate and limited by their invasive nature. New metabolite profiling technologies offer an opportunity to improve asthma diagnosis using non-invasive sampling. A rapid analytical method for metabolite profiling of saliva is reported using ultra-high performance liquid chromatography combined with high resolution time-of-flight mass spectrometry (UHPLC-MS). The only sample pre-treatment required was protein precipitation with acetonitrile. The method has been applied to a pilot study of saliva samples obtained by passive drool from well phenotyped patients with asthma and healthy controls. Stepwise data reduction and multivariate statistical analysis was performed on the complex dataset obtained from the UHPLC-MS analysis to identify potential metabolomic biomarkers of asthma in saliva. Ten discriminant features were identified that distinguished between moderate asthma and healthy control samples with an overall recognition ability of 80% during training of the model and 97% for model cross-validation. The reported method demonstrates the potential for a non-invasive approach to the clinical diagnosis of asthma using mass spectrometry-based metabolic profiling of saliva.