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A feasibility study of metabolic phenotyping of dried blood spot specimens in rural Chinese women exposed to household air pollution

Loo, R.L., Lu, Q., Carter, E.M., Liu, S., Clark, S., Wang, Y., Baumgartner, J., Tang, H. and Chan, Q. (2020) A feasibility study of metabolic phenotyping of dried blood spot specimens in rural Chinese women exposed to household air pollution. Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology .

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Exposure–response studies and policy evaluations of household air pollution (HAP) are limited by current methods of exposure assessment which are expensive and burdensome to participants.


We collected 152 dried blood spot (DBS) specimens during the heating and non-heating seasons from 53 women who regularly used biomass-burning stoves for cooking and heating. Participants were enrolled in a longitudinal study in China. Untargeted metabolic phenotyping of DBS were generated using ultra-high performance liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry to exemplify measurement precision and assessment for feasibility to detect exposure to HAP, evaluated by season (high pollution vs. low pollution) and measured personal exposure to fine particulate matter <2.5 μm diameters (PM2.5) and black carbon (BC) in the 48-h prior to collecting the DBS specimen.


Metabolites e.g., amino acids, acyl-carnitines, lyso-phosphorylcholines, sphinganine, and choline were detected in the DBS specimens. Our approach is capable of detecting the differences in personal exposure to HAP whilst showing high analytical reproducibility, coefficient of variance (CV) <15%, meeting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration criteria.


Our results provide a proof of principle that high-resolution metabolic phenotypic data can be generated using a simple DBS extraction method thus suitable for exposure studies in remote, low-resource settings where the collection of serum and plasma is logistically challenging or infeasible. The analytical run time (19 min/specimen) is similar to most global phenotyping methods and therefore suitable for large-scale application.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Australian National Phenome Center
Publisher: Springer Nature
Copyright: © 2020 Springer Nature Limited
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