Mouse Urinary Biomarkers Provide Signatures of Maturation, Diet, Stress Level, and Diurnal Rhythm


Schaefer, M. L., Wongravee, K., Holmboe, M. E., Heinrich, N. M., Dixon, S. J., Zeskind, J. E., … & Trevejo, J. M. (2010). Mouse urinary biomarkers provide signatures of maturation, diet, stress level, and diurnal rhythm. Chemical senses, 35(6), 459-471.


Body fluids such as urine potentially contain a wealth of information pertaining to age, sex, social and reproductive status, physiologic state, and genotype of the donor. To explore whether urine could encode information regarding environment, physiology, and development, we compared the volatile compositions of mouse urine using solid-phase microextraction and gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (SPME-GC/MS). Specifically, we identified volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in individual urine samples taken from inbred C57BL/6J-H-2b mice under several experimental conditions—maturation state, diet, stress, and diurnal rhythms, designed to mimic natural variations. Approximately 1000 peaks (i.e., variables) were identified per comparison and of these many were identified as potential differential biomarkers. Consistent with previous findings, we found groups of compounds that vary significantly and consistently rather than a single unique compound to provide a robust signature. We identified over 49 new predictive compounds, in addition to identifying several published compounds, for maturation state, diet, stress, and time-of-day. We found a considerable degree of overlap in the chemicals identified as (potential) biomarkers for each comparison. Chemometric methods indicate that the strong group-related patterns in VOCs provide sufficient information to identify several parameters of natural variations in this strain of mice including their maturation state, stress level, and diet.

Keywords:  diet, solid-phase microextraction and gas chromatography–mass spectrometry, urine, volatile organic compound

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