Metabolomics is the systematic study of the unique metabolite (small-molecule) fingerprints of biological systems.
The Metabolomics Profiling Facility is managed by the Metabolomics laboratory who use state-of-the-art tandem mass spectrometry to obtain metabolic profiles (primarily lipids) from cell and animal models in addition to clinically relevant human samples to better characterise the dyslipidemia associated with cardiometabolic disease, including obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease as well as Alzheimer’s disease and its relationship to the pathogenesis of these disease states. These studies are leading to new approaches to early diagnosis, risk assessment and therapeutic monitoring of these most prevalent diseases in society.
High performance liquid chromatography system (HPLC) coupled to an electrospray ionisation triple quadrapole mass spectrometer. Incorporating multiple platforms but primarily an Agilent 1290 series HPLC and an Agilent 6495C triple quadrapole mass spectrometer.
Our approach and capabilities
We have developed a high throughput lipidomics approach that enables the analysis of approximately 800 lipid species from over 35 lipid classes and subclasses (see Table 1). The analysis is performed by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry on one of three instruments within the Metabolomics Laboratory. We use stable isotope internal standards (approximately one per class) to provide semi-quantitative data on each of the over 800 lipid species.
This analysis typically required only small amounts of biological material (10 μL plasma or 50 μg cellular protein from cell or tissue homogenates).
We can advise on appropriate experimental design to minimise variance across the experiment and maximise statistical power. Experiments can comprise anywhere from 20 to over 5000 samples. The appropriate use of quality control samples provides for standardisation across and between analytical runs.
We have developed SOPs for lipid extraction from biological fluids, cells and tissues that provide high recoveries and reproducibility.
Liquid chromatography mass spectrometry
Our experienced researchers maintain and run the mass spectrometers for the analysis of in-house and external samples.
Data extraction and analysis
Data processing is performed on specialised software available within the Metabolomics Laboratory. Analysis of lipidomic data presents some specific challenges. We can also advise on, and support, subsequent statistical analysis with our established lipidomic workflow utilising open source R software to allow for ease of transparency in publication. These analyses can extend to multivariate modelling utilising machine learning approaches within a cross validation framework to create and evaluate classification or prediction models.
Number of species
|Free fatty acids||FFA||18|
Training and collaborations
We work with both internal and external groups on collaborative projects. Training can be provided to collaborating laboratories to facilitate the processing and analysis of biological samples. Development of additional capabilities is ongoing and we are happy to discuss project specific needs.
Current projects within the Metabolomics laboratory
- Identifying novel lipid and genetic signatures of Metabolic disease in early childhood.
- A systems epidemiology approach to define metabolic and genomic determinants of alzheimer’s disease.
- Genome wide association studies for the identification, validation and therapeutic targeting of lipid metabolic pathways in cardiometabolic disease.
- Metabolomic studies into the pathogenesis and risk assessment of type 2 diabetes.
- Plasmalogen modulation: A new therapeutic strategy for the prevention and management of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
- Pathogenesis and risk assessment of coronary artery disease.
- Lipidomic analysis of the FIELD Trial: mechanism of action and prediction of response to fenofibrate treatment in type 2 diabetes.
- Dyslipidaemia resulting from obesity is a major contributor to the onset and progression of Type 2 diabetes.