Untargeted metabolomic analysis of thoracic blood from badgers indicate changes linked to infection with bovine tuberculosis (Mycobacterium bovis)A pilot study

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Type Article
Original languageEnglish
Article number61
Number of pages9
Issue number8
Early online date27 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jul 2022
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Mycobacterium bovis, the causative agent of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in cattle, represents a major disease burden to UK cattle farming, with considerable costs associated with its control. The European badger (Meles meles) is a known wildlife reservoir for bTB and better knowledge of the epidemiology of bTB through testing wildlife is required for disease control. Current tests available for the diagnosis of bTB in badgers are limited by cost, processing time or sensitivities.

Materials and Methods
We assessed the ability of flow infusion electrospray—high-resolution mass spectrometry (FIE-HRMS) to determine potential differences between infected and non-infected badgers based on thoracic blood samples obtained from badgers found dead in Wales. Thoracic blood samples were autoclaved for handling in a containment level 2 (CL2) hazard laboratory.

Here we show the major differences associated with with M. bovis infection were changes to folate, pyrimidine, histidine, glycerophospholipid and phosphonate metabolism.

Our studies have indicated differences in the metabolomic signature of badgers found dead in relation to their infection status, suggesting metabolomics could hold potential for developing novel diagnostics for bTB in badgers. As well as highlighting a potential way to handle samples containing a highly pathogenic agent at CL2 for metabolomics studies.


  • Badger, Bovine tuberculosis, Diagnostics, Metabolomics, Mycobacterium bovis