PloS one 2016 Oct 1811(10) e0164196 doi 10.1371/journal.pone.0164196
The early diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is desirable to install treatment to prevent disease progression and joint destruction. Autoantibodies and immunological markers pre-date the onset of symptoms by years albeit not all patients will present these factors, even at disease onset. Additional biomarkers would be of high value to improve early diagnosis and understanding of the process, leading to disease development.
Plasma samples donated before the onset of RA were identified in the Biobank of Northern Sweden, a collection within national health survey programs. Thirty samples from pre-symptomatic individuals and nineteen from controls were subjected to liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LCMS) metabolite and lipid profiling. Lipid and metabolite profiles discriminating samples from pre-symptomatic individuals from controls were identified after univariate and multivariate OPLS-DA based analyses.
The OPLS-DA models including pre-symptomatic individuals and controls identified profiles differentiating between the groups that was characterized by lower levels of acyl-carnitines and fatty acids, with higher levels of lysophospatidylcholines (LPCs) and metabolites from tryptophan metabolism in pre-symptomatic individuals compared with controls. Lipid profiling showed that the majority of phospholipids and sphingomyelins were at higher levels in pre-symptomatic individuals in comparison with controls.
Our LCMS based approach demonstrated that there are changes in small molecule and lipid profiles detectable in plasma samples collected from the pre-symptomatic individuals who subsequently developed RA, which point to an up-regulation of levels of lysophospatidylcholines, and of tryptophan metabolism, perturbation of fatty acid beta-oxidation and increased oxidative stress in pre-symptomatic individuals’ years before onset of symptoms.