Early diagnosis is essential but challenging in severe sepsis. Quantifying and comparing metabolite concentrations in serum has been suggested as a new diagnostic tool. Here we used proton nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H NMR) based metabolomics to analyze the possible differences in metabolite concentrations between sera taken from septic patients and healthy controls, as well as between sera of surviving and non-surviving sepsis patients. We took serum samples from 44 sepsis patients when the first sepsis induced organ dysfunction was found. Serum samples were also collected from 14 age and gender matched healthy controls. The samples were analyzed by quantitative 1H NMR spectroscopy for non-lipid metabolites. We found that the serum levels of glucose, glycine, 3-hydroxybutyrate, creatinine and glycoprotein acetyls (mostly alpha-1-acid glycoprotein, AGP) were significantly (p < 0.05) higher in sepsis compared to healthy sera, whereas citrate and histidine were significantly (p < 0.05) lower in sepsis patients compared to healthy controls. We found statistically significantly higher serum lactate and citrate concentrations in non-survivors compared to 30-day survivors. According to our study, 3-hydroxybutyrate, citrate, glycine, histidine, and AGP are candidates for further studies to enable identification of phenotype association in the early stages of sepsis.
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