In recent decades, the emphasis of biomarker research has focused on blood-based markers. However, blood biomarkers alone cannot capture the full spectrum of clinically relevant indicators. Consequently, urine has emerged as a valuable and complementary source of information, with increasing evidence of the diagnostic potential of urine biomarkers compared to their serum counterparts for the detection of specific diseases.
In a study published in the KeAi journal, Dr urine, a group of Chinese researchers, Professor Zhiguo Mao and Dr. Cheng Xu of Shanghai Changzheng Hospital, along with Professor Yuhe Gao of Beijing Normal University, reported the increased effectiveness of urinary biomarkers compared to plasma biomarkers for disease detection.
Blood, being a complex fluid with multiple physiological functions, remains relatively stable due to the body’s homeostatic mechanisms. In contrast, urine, a waste product produced by the kidneys, changes over time, making it an excellent source of early biomarkers.”
Dr. Cheng Jui, first author of the study
Notably, urine does not require a stabilization process, rendering it more accurate to reflect the changes induced in the body.
“The direct link between urine and the urinary system positions it as a prime area for biomarker discovery, especially in the context of urological diseases,” Xu added.
The process of urine formation in the nephrons allows for the concentration of specific urinary biomarkers, which can be present in urine at higher levels than in blood. Additionally, small molecules that can pass through the filtration phase and are not reabsorbed tend to concentrate in the urine, making them more easily detectable.
Furthermore, the ease and non-invasiveness of urine collection make it an attractive biofluid for biomarker discovery, and urinary proteins can be efficiently stored for long-term archiving.
“A key takeaway from our results is the feasibility of a combined approach, using both urine and serum biomarkers for a more holistic and personalized strategy for diagnosis and management,” Xu said.
However, the team acknowledges challenges in realizing this potential, particularly the standardization of urinary biomarker assays and expanding the spectrum of diseases that can be diagnosed using urinary biomarkers.
Xu, C., etc. (2023). Urine biomarkers may outperform serum biomarkers in some diseases. urine. doi.org/10.1016/j.urine.2023.10.001.