Integrated plasma and urine metabolomics coupled with HPLC/QTOF-MS and chemometric analysis on potential biomarkers in liver injury and hepatoprotective effects of Er-Zhi-Wan

Weifeng Yao, Haiwei Gu, Jiangjiang Zhu, Gregory Barding, Haibo Cheng, Beihua Bao, Li Zhang, Anwei Ding, Wei Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

31 Scopus citations


Metabolomics techniques are the comprehensive assessment of endogenous metabolites in a biological system and may provide additional insight into the molecular mechanisms. Er-Zhi-Wan (EZW) is a traditional Chinese medicine formula, which contains Fructus Ligustri Lucidi (FLL) and Herba Ecliptae (HE). EZW is widely used to prevent and treat various liver injuries through the nourishment of the liver. However, the precise molecular mechanism of hepatoprotective effects has not been comprehensively explored. Here, an integrated metabolomics strategy was designed to assess the effects and possible mechanisms of EZW against carbon tetrachloride-induced liver injury, a commonly used model of both acute and chronic liver intoxication. High-performance chromatography/quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometry (HPLC/QTOF-MS) combined with chemometric approaches including principal component analysis (PCA) and partial least squares-discriminant analysis (PLS-DA) were used to discover differentiating metabolites in metabolomics data of rat plasma and urine. Results indicate six differentiating metabolites, tryptophan, sphinganine, tetrahydrocorticosterone, pipecolic acid, l-2-amino-3-oxobutanoic acid and phosphoribosyl pyrophosphate, in the positive mode. Functional pathway analysis revealed that the alterations in these metabolites were associated with tryptophan metabolism, sphingolipid metabolism, steroid hormone biosynthesis, lysine degradation, glycine, serine and threonine metabolism, and pentose phosphate pathway. Of note, EZW has a potential pharmacological effect, which might be through regulating multiple perturbed pathways to the normal state. Our findings also showed that the robust integrated metabolomics techniques are promising for identifying more biomarkers and pathways and helping to clarify the function mechanisms of traditional Chinese medicine. [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7367-7378
Number of pages12
JournalAnalytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry
Issue number28
StatePublished - Oct 23 2014
Externally publishedYes



  • Chemometrics
  • Er-Zhi-Wan (EZW)
  • Hepatoprotective
  • Integrated metabolomics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Biochemistry

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