Brain Injury Alters Volatile Metabolome

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Chemical signals arising from body secretions and excretions communicate information about health status as have been reported in a range of animal models of disease. A potential common pathway for diseases to alter chemical signals is via activation of immune function—which is known to be intimately involved in modulation of chemical signals in several species. Based on our prior findings that both immunization and inflammation alter volatile body odors, we hypothesized that injury accompanied by inflammation might correspondingly modify the volatile metabolome to create a signature endophenotype. In particular, we investigated alteration of the volatile metabolome as a result of traumatic brain injury. Here, we demonstrate that mice could be trained in a behavioral assay to discriminate mouse models subjected to lateral fluid percussion injury from appropriate surgical sham controls on the basis of volatile urinary metabolites. Chemical analyses of the urine samples similarly demonstrated that brain injury altered urine volatile profiles. Behavioral and chemical analyses further indicated that alteration of the volatile metabolome induced by brain injury and alteration resulting from lipopolysaccharide-associated inflammation were not synonymous. Monitoring of alterations in the volatile metabolome may be a useful tool for rapid brain trauma diagnosis and for monitoring recovery.

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