Untargeted metabolomics is expected to lead to a better mechanistic understanding of diseases and thus applications of precision medicine and personalized intervention. To further increase metabolite coverage and achieve high accuracy of metabolite quantification, the present proof-of-principle study was to explore the applicability of integration of two-dimensional gas and liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC × GC-MS and 2DLC-MS) platforms to characterizing circulating polar metabolome extracted from plasma collected from 29 individuals with colorectal cancer in comparison with 29 who remained cancer-free. After adjustment of multiple comparisons, 20 metabolites were found to be up-regulated and 8 metabolites were found to be down-regulated, which pointed to the dysregulation in energy metabolism and protein synthesis. While integrating the GC × GC-MS and 2DLC-MS data can dramatically increase the metabolite coverage, this study had a limitation in analyzing the non-polar metabolites. Given the small sample size, these results need to be validated with a larger sample size and with samples collected prior to diagnostic and treatment. Nevertheless, this proof-of-principle study demonstrates the potential applicability of integration of these advanced analytical platforms to improve discrimination between colorectal cancer cases and controls based on metabolite profiles in future studies.
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