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Chemometric analysis of biofluids from mice experimentally infected with Schistosoma mansoni

Jia V Li1, Jasmina Saric1, Yulan Wang2, Jennifer Keiser34, Jürg Utzinger45 and Elaine Holmes1*

Author Affiliations

1 Section of Biomolecular Medicine, Department of Surgery and Cancer, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London, London, UK

2 State Key Laboratory of Magnetic Resonance and Atomic and Molecular Physics, Wuhan Centre for Magnetic Resonance, Wuhan Institute of Physics and Mathematics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan, People's Republic of China

3 Department of Medical Parasitology and Infection Biology, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Basel, Switzerland

4 University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland

5 Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Basel, Switzerland

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Parasites & Vectors 2011, 4:179  doi:10.1186/1756-3305-4-179

Published: 19 September 2011



The urinary metabolic fingerprint of a patent Schistosoma mansoni infection in the mouse has been characterized using spectroscopic methods. However, the temporal dynamics of metabolic alterations have not been studied at the systems level. Here, we investigated the systems metabolic changes in the mouse upon S. mansoni infection by modeling the sequence of metabolic events in urine, plasma and faecal water.


Ten female NMRI mice, aged 5 weeks, were infected with 80 S. mansoni cercariae each. Ten age- and sex-matched mice remained uninfected and served as a control group. Urine, plasma and faecal samples were collected 1 day before, and on eight time points until day 73 post-infection. Biofluid samples were subjected to 1H nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and multivariate statistical analyses.


Differences between S. mansoni-infected and uninfected control mice were found from day 41 onwards. One of the key metabolic signatures in urine and faecal extracts was an alteration in several gut bacteria-related metabolites, whereas the plasma reflected S. mansoni infection by changes in metabolites related to energy homeostasis, such as relatively higher levels of lipids and decreased levels of glucose. We identified 12 urinary biomarkers of S. mansoni infection, among which hippurate, phenylacetylglycine (PAG) and 2-oxoadipate were particularly robust with regard to disease progression. Thirteen plasma metabolites were found to differentiate infected from control mice, with the lipid components, D-3-hydroxybutyrate and glycerophosphorylcholine showing greatest consistency. Faecal extracts were highly variable in chemical composition and therefore only five metabolites were found discriminatory of infected mice, of which 5-aminovalerate was the most stable and showed a positive correlation with urinary PAG.


The composite metabolic signature of S. mansoni in the mouse derived from perturbations in urinary, faecal and plasma composition showed a coherent response in altered energy metabolism and in gut microbial activity. Our findings provide new mechanistic insight into host-parasite interactions across different compartments and identified a set of temporally robust biomarkers of S. mansoni infection, which might assist in derivation of diagnostic assays or metrics for monitoring therapeutic response.