Can urine metabolomics be helpful in differentiating neuropathic and nociceptive pain? a proof-of-concept study

Gabriele Finco, Emanuela Locci, Paolo Mura, Roberta Massa, Antonio Noto, Mario Musu, Giovanni Landoni, Ernesto D'Aloja, Fabio De-Giorgio, Paola Scano, Maurizio Evangelista

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The diagnosis of pain nature is a troublesome task and a wrong attribution often leads to an increase of costs and to avoidable pharmaceutical adverse reactions. An objective and specific approach to achieve this diagnosis is highly desirable. The aim of this work was to investigate urine samples collected from patients suffering from pain of different nature by a metabolomics approach based on 1H NMR spectroscopy and multivariate statistical analysis. We performed a prospective study on 74 subjects: 37 suffering from pain (12 with nociceptive and 25 with neuropathic pain), and 37 controls not suffering from any kind of chronic pain. The application of discriminant analysis on the urine spectral profiles allowed us to classify these two types of pain with high sensibility and specificity. Although the classification relies on the global urine metabolic profile, the individual contribution in discriminating neuropathic pain patients of metabolites such as choline and phosphocholine, taurine and alanine, suggests potential lesions to the nervous system. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time that a urine metabolomics profile is used to classify these two kinds of pain. This methodology, although based on a limited sample, may constitute the basis for a new helpful tool in the clinical diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0150476
JournalPLoS One
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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