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Electrochemistry meets mass spectrometry; a combined analytical platform for characterization of novel gut microbiota-produced metabolites in fecal samples

PhD ceremony:Ms J. (Julia) Aresti Sanz
When:December 19, 2022
Supervisor:S. (Sahar) El Aidy, PhD
Co-supervisor:dr. H.P. (Hjalmar) Permentier
Where:Academy building RUG
Faculty:Science and Engineering

The human gut microbiota is a microbial community inhabiting the human gastrointestinal tract, which has the capacity to influence host health and disease. One of the ways of doing so is through the microbial metabolization of food components and drugs and the subsequent production of bioactive metabolites. Gut microbiota-produced metabolites play an important role in several disorders, including brain disorders such as Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Thus, the study of fecal metabolites is emerging as a powerful tool to identify microbiota-based non-invasive biomarkers. 

In this thesis, mass spectrometry-based methods were employed to analyze the possible interference of gut microbiota metabolization with the psychostimulant drug, and the main treatment available for ADHD, methylphenidate (MPH). The results showed how MPH is spontaneously degraded in conditions resembling its site of absorption, independent of the presence or absence of gut microbiota. Furthermore, the thesis proposes a combined liquid chromatography-electrochemical detection-mass spectroscopy platform for the analysis of the fecal metabolome. This optimized approach may prove to be a significant improvement in the field, which remains limited by the challenges of metabolite identification.