Radiation metabolomics employing mass spectral technologies represents a plausible means of high-throughput minimally invasive radiation biodosimetry. A simplified metabolomics protocol is described that employs ubiquitous gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and open source software including random forests machine learning algorithm to uncover latent biomarkers of 3 Gy γ radiation in rats. Urine was collected from six male Wistar rats and six sham-irradiated controls for 7 days, 4 prior to irradiation and 3 after irradiation. Water and food consumption, urine volume, body weight, and sodium, potassium, calcium, chloride, phosphate and urea excretion showed major effects from exposure to γ radiation. The metabolomics protocol uncovered several urinary metabolites that were significantly up-regulated (glyoxylate, threonate, thymine, uracil, p-cresol) and down-regulated (citrate, 2-oxoglutarate, adipate, pimelate, suberate, azelaate) as a result of radiation exposure. Thymine and uracil were shown to derive largely from thymidine and 2′-deoxyuridine, which are known radiation biomarkers in the mouse. The radiation metabolomic phenotype in rats appeared to derive from oxidative stress and effects on kidney function. Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry is a promising platform on which to develop the field of radiation metabolomics further and to assist in the design of instrumentation for use in detecting biological consequences of environmental radiation release.
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