Urinary Lipidomics: evidence for multiple sources and sexual dimorphism in healthy individuals

Stefan Bornstein, Juergen Graessler, C S Mehnert, Klaus-Martin Schulte, Sven Bergmann, Suzana Strauss, T. D. Bornstein, Julio Licinio, Man Lok Nichol Wong, Andreas Lothar Birkenfeld

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Urinary lipidomics may add new valuable biomarkers to the diagnostic armamentarium for early detection of metabolic and kidney diseases. Sources and composition of urinary lipids in healthy individuals, however, have not been investigated in detail. Shotgun lipidomics was used to quantify lipidomic profiles in native urine samples from 16 individuals (eight men, eight women) collected in five fractions over 24 h. All probands were comprehensively characterized by urinary and clinical indices. The mean total urinary lipid concentration per sample was 0.84 μM in men and 1.03 μM in women. We observed significant intra- and interindividual variations of lipid concentrations over time, but failed to detect a clear circadian pattern. Based on quantity and subclass composition it seems very unlikely that plasma serves as major source for the urinary lipidome. Considering lipid metabolites occurring in at least 20% of all samples 38 lipid species from 7 lipid classes were identified. Four phosphatidylserine and one phosphatidylethanolamine ether species (PE-O 36:5) were detectable in almost all urine samples. Sexual dimorphism has been found mainly for phosphatidylcholines and phosphatidylethanolamines. In men and in women urinary lipid species were highly correlated with urinary creatinine and albumin excretion, reflecting glomerular filtration and tubular transport processes. In women, however, lipid species deriving from urinary cells and cellular constituents of the lower genitourinary tract considerably contributed to the urinary lipidome. In conclusion, our study revealed the potential of urinary lipidomics but also the complexity of methodological challenges which have to be overcome for its implementation as a routine diagnostic tool for renal, urological and metabolic diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)331-339
Number of pages9
JournalThe pharmacogenomics journal
Issue number2
Early online date13 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018


  • Urinary lipidomics


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