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Diabetol Metab Syndr. 2017 Jun 26;9:48. doi: 10.1186/s13098-017-0246-9. eCollection 2017.

Metabolic profiling of type 1 diabetes mellitus in children and adolescents: a case-control study.

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Faculty of Medicine and Life Sciences, Hasselt University, Martelarenlaan 42, 3500 Hasselt, Belgium.
Department of Pediatrics, Jessa Hospital, Stadsomvaart 11, 3500 Hasselt, Belgium.
Biomolecule Design Group, Applied and Analytical Chemistry, Institute for Materials Research, Hasselt University, Agoralaan 1 Building D, 3590 Diepenbeek, Belgium.
Biomedical Research Institute, Hasselt University, Agoralaan 1 Building C, 3590 Diepenbeek, Belgium.
Applied and Analytical Chemistry, Institute of Materials Research, Agoralaan 1 Building D, 3590 Diepenbeek, Belgium.



Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) is one of the most common pediatric diseases and its incidence is rising in many countries. Recently, it has been shown that metabolites other than glucose play an important role in insulin deficiency and the development of diabetes. The aim of our study was to look for discriminating variation in the concentrations of small-molecule metabolites in the plasma of T1DM children as compared to non-diabetic matched controls using proton nuclear magnetic resonance (1H-NMR)-based metabolomics.


A cross-sectional study was set-up to examine the metabolic profile in fasting plasma samples from seven children with poorly controlled T1DM and seven non-diabetic controls aged 8-18 years, and matched for gender, age and BMI-SDS. The obtained plasma 1H-NMR spectra were rationally divided into 110 integration regions, representing the metabolic phenotype. These integration regions reflect the relative metabolite concentrations and were used as statistical variables to construct (train) a classification model in discriminating between T1DM patients and controls.


The total amount of variation explained by the model between the groups is 81.0% [R2Y(cum)] and within the groups is 75.8% [R2X(cum)]. The predictive ability of the model [Q2(cum)] obtained by cross-validation is 50.7%, indicating that the discrimination between the groups on the basis of the metabolic phenotype is valid. Besides the expected higher concentration of glucose, the relative concentrations of lipids (triglycerides, phospholipids and cholinated phospholipids) are clearly lower in the plasma of T1DM patients as compared to controls. Also the concentrations of the amino acids serine, tryptophan and cysteine are slightly decreased.


The present study demonstrates that metabolic profiling of plasma by 1H-NMR spectroscopy allows to discriminate between T1DM patients and controls. The metabolites that significantly differ between both groups might point to disturbances in biochemical pathways including (1) choline deficiency, (2) increased gluconeogenesis, and (3) glomerular hyperfiltration. Although the sample size of this study is still somewhat limited and a validation should be performed, the proof of principle looks promising and justifies a deeper investigation of the diagnostic possibilities of 1H-NMR metabolomics in follow-up studies. Trial registration NCT03014908. Registered 06/01/2017. Retrospectively registered.


1H-NMR spectroscopy; Metabolomics; Pediatrics; Type 1 diabetes

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