Untargeted saliva metabolomics reveals COVID-19 severity: Saliva Metabolomics for SARS-COV-2 Prognosis

Cecile Frampas, Katie Longman, Matt P Spick, Holly M Lewis, Catia D Costa, Deborah Dunn-Walters, Danni Greener, George E Evetts, Debra Skene, Drupad K Trivedi, Andrew Pitt, Katherine Hollywood, Perdita Barran, Melanie J. Bailey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to represent an ongoing global health issue given the potential for vaccine escape and the low likelihood of eliminating all reservoirs of the disease. Whilst diagnostic testing has progressed at pace, there is an unmet clinical need to develop tests that are prognostic, to triage the high volumes of patients arriving in hospital settings. Recent research has shown that serum metabolomics has potential for prognosis of disease progression. 1 In a hospital setting, collection of saliva samples is more convenient for both staff and patients, and therefore offers an alternative sampling matrix to serum. We demonstrate here for the first time that saliva metabolomics can reveal COVID-19 severity.

Methods: 88 saliva samples were collected from hospitalised patients with clinical suspicion of COVID-19, alongside clinical metadata. COVID-19 diagnosis was confirmed using RT-PCR testing. COVID severity was classified using clinical descriptors first proposed by SR Knight et al. Metabolites were extracted from saliva samples and analysed using liquid chromatography mass spectrometry.

Results: In this work, positive percent agreement of 1.00 between a PLS-DA metabolomics model and the clinical diagnosis of COVID severity was achieved. The negative percent agreement with the clinical severity diagnosis was also 1.00, for overall percent agreement of 1.00.

Conclusions: This research demonstrates that liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry can identify salivary biomarkers capable of separating high severity COVID-19 patients from low severity COVID-19 patients in a small cohort study.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-30
Number of pages30
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jul 2021


  • saliva
  • metabolomics
  • COVID-19
  • prognostic test
  • liquid chromatography mass spectrometry

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Manchester Institute of Biotechnology


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