Serum metabolome signatures characterizing co-infection of Plasmodium falciparum and HBV in pregnant women.
Plasmodium falciparum (P. falciparum) and hepatitis B virus (HBV) co-infection is on the rise among pregnant women in northern Ghana. Mono-infection with either of these two pathogens results in unique metabolic alterations. Thus, we aimed to explicate the effects of this co-infection on the metabolome signatures of pregnant women, which would indicate the impacted metabolic pathways and provide useful prognostic or diagnostic markers. Using an MS/MS-based targeted metabolomic approach, we determined the serum metabolome in pregnant women with P. falciparum mono-infection, HBV mono-infection, P. falciparum, and HBV co-infection and in uninfected (control) women. We observed significantly decreased sphingolipid concentrations in subjects with P. falciparum mono-infection, whereas amino acids and phospholipids were decreased in subjects with HBV mono-infection. Co-infections were found to be characterized distinctively by reduced concentrations of phospholipids and hexoses (mostly glucose) as well as altered pathways that contribute to redox homeostasis. Overall, PC ae C40:1 was found to be a good discriminatory metabolite for the co-infection group. PC ae C40:1 can further be explored for use in the diagnosis and treatment of malaria and chronic hepatitis B co-morbidity as well as to distinguish co-infections from cases of mono-infections.