Urine Metabolites Provide a Comprehensive Picture of the Phenotype

urine metabolites

Urine metabolomics is the analysis of metabolites present in urine samples. It has several advantages over other types of metabolomics, such as blood or tissue analysis, because urine is a non-invasive and easily accessible biofluid that is relatively stable. Additionally, urine contains a wide range of metabolites, including those produced by the kidneys, liver, and gut, providing a more comprehensive picture of an individual’s metabolic status. Urine metabolomics can be used to identify metabolic pathways that are altered in disease, to identify potential biomarkers for early detection and diagnosis, to monitor treatment response, and to identify possible side effects of treatment.

Urine Metabolomics Can Be Leveraged for a Wide Range of Applications

Urine has been used in metabolomics for a wide range of applications. For example, urine metabolomics has been used to identify biomarkers for the early detection and diagnosis of renal diseases, such as acute kidney injury and chronic kidney disease. It has also been used to identify biomarkers for different types of cancer, such as bladder, prostate, and renal cell carcinoma, which can aid in early diagnosis and prognosis. Urine metabolomics has also been pivoted to investigate metabolic disorders, such as diabetes and obesity, and to monitor treatment response. Finally, researchers have used urine metabolomics to understand the metabolic effects of different diets and nutritional interventions.

The Metabolon Global Discovery Panel Analyzes Metabolites in Urine and Other Biofluids

The Metabolon Global Discovery Panel has helped many scientists with the metabolomic analysis of urine samples. The ability to non-invasively test for cancer biomarkers in urine is especially beneficial for screening pediatric patients. Metabolon recently helped identify a novel neuroblastoma biomarker by comprehensively analyzing urine samples from children.1 Metabolon collaborated with another research group and found that urine metabolomics profiling offers a non-invasive means of diagnosing and predicting acute kidney allograft rejection.2

Another research group used the Global Discovery Panel to screen urine samples and found that urine metabolites may provide a non-invasive adjunct diagnostic to cystoscopy for the detection of bladder cancer and recurrent disease management.3 In this case study, Metabolon helped elucidate multiple candidate bladder cancer biomarkers, which may offer predictive value in identifying patients with bladder cancer. Metabolon collaborated with another research group to show that urine can be analyzed as a front-line specimen to screen for inborn errors of metabolism (IEM) through metabolomics.4 The Global Discovery Panel analyzes metabolites in urine and other biofluids. Our technology allows scientists to identify a wide range of metabolites and metabolic pathways, providing a comprehensive understanding of the metabolic status and phenotype of an individual. The Global Discovery Panel’s unrivaled coverage of up to 5,400 semi-quantifiable metabolites can offer the most comprehensive solution to characterize urine samples.

Urine Sample Collection and Handling

Urine sample collection and handling are crucial for ensuring the accuracy and reproducibility of metabolomics results. Fasting is preferred, but not required, prior to urine collection. However, it must be noted if the patient has fasted for 8 to 10 hours prior to specimen collection and received no other nutritional intervention other than water for that time period. The following steps should be followed when collecting and handling urine samples for metabolomics:

  1. Collect 0.25 to 1 mL of urine in a sample vial (polypropylene tube). We recommend the following: Metabolon provided bar-coded collection tubes or 1.5 mL polypropylene tubes may also be used (Eppendorf Cat #022363204 or Fisher Cat #05-402-25).
  2. Immediately place the urine specimen into the freezer (≤-20oC). Store the urine frozen (preferably, at -80°C) until it is ready for shipment.
  3. Frozen specimens should be sent on dry ice to retain -20°C to -80°C temperature during transport.


  1. Yokota K, Uchida H, Sakairi M, et al. Identification of novel neuroblastoma biomarkers in urine samples. Sci Rep. Feb 18 2021;11(1):4055. doi:10.1038/s41598-021-83619-w
  2. Suhre K, Schwartz JE, Sharma VK, et al. Urine Metabolite Profiles Predictive of Human Kidney Allograft Status. J Am Soc Nephrol. Feb 2016;27(2):626-36. doi:10.1681/ASN.2015010107
  3. Wittmann BM, Stirdivant SM, Mitchell MW, et al. Bladder cancer biomarker discovery using global metabolomic profiling of urine. PLoS One. 2014;9(12):e115870. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0115870
  4. Kennedy AD, Miller MJ, Beebe K, et al. Metabolomic Profiling of Human Urine as a Screen for Multiple Inborn Errors of Metabolism. Genet Test Mol Biomarkers. Sep 2016;20(9):485-95. doi:10.1089/gtmb.2015.0291
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