Analytica chimica acta

Urinary intermediates of tryptophan as indicators of the gut microbial metabolism.

PMID 28916042


While over 10% of the human metabolome is directly associated with the gut microbial metabolism, specific metabolites are largely uncharacterized. Therefore, methods for the identification and quantification of microbiota-associated metabolites in biological fluids such as urine or plasma are necessary in order to elucidate the molecular basis of host-microbiota interaction. In this study, we focused on the tryptophan metabolism, employing quantitative assays by ultra-high performance liquid chromatography (UHPLC) and tandem mass spectrometry, specifically selected reaction monitoring (SRM). Metabolite standards were utilized to generate SRM library for 16 intermediates of the tryptophan metabolism which were human endogenous as well as microbiota-associated based on the HMDB classification. Next, the SRM assays were utilized for screening in maternal urine samples and in dried urine specimens from neonates. The approach resulted in the discovery of microbiota-associated metabolites (methyl indole-3-acetate and methyl indol-3-propionate) previously unreported in urine samples and additionally in quantification of 8 intermediates of the tryptophan metabolism. To the best of our knowledge, this study represents the first attempt to explore previously unreported microbial metabolites in urine by UHPLC-SRM and novel methodology for simultaneous determination of microbiota-modulated component of Trp metabolism.