Metabolic profiling of human plasma and urine, targeting tryptophan, tyrosine and branched chain amino acid pathways

Andrea Anesi, Josep Rubert, Kolade Oluwagbemigun, Ximena Orozco-Ruiz, Ute Nöthlings, Monique M.B. Breteler, Fulvio Mattivi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Tryptophan and tyrosine metabolism has a major effect on human health, and disorders have been associated with the development of several pathologies. Recently, gut microbial metabolism was found to be important for maintaining correct physiology. Here, we describe the development and validation of a UHPLC-ESI-MS/MS method for targeted quantification of 39 metabolites related to tryptophan and tyrosine metabolism, branched chain amino acids and gut-derived metabolites in human plasma and urine. Extraction from plasma was optimised using 96-well plates, shown to be effective in removing phospholipids. Urine was filtered and diluted ten-fold. Metabolites were separated with reverse phase chromatography and detected using triple quadrupole MS. Linear ranges (from ppb to ppm) and correlation coefficients (r2 > 0.990) were established for both matrices independently and the method was shown to be linear for all tested metabolites. At medium spiked concentration, recovery was over 80% in both matrices, while analytical precision was excellent (CV < 15%). Matrix effects were minimal and retention time stability was excellent. The applicability of the methods was tested on biological samples, and metabolite concentrations were found to be in agreement with available data. The method allows the analysis of up to 96 samples per day and was demonstrated to be stable for up to three weeks from acquisition.

Original languageEnglish
Article number261
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Branched chain amino acids
  • Clinical studies
  • Gut microbiota metabolites
  • Human plasma
  • LC-MS/MS
  • Targeted metabolomics
  • Tryptophan metabolism
  • Tyrosine metabolism
  • Urine

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