Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry profiles of urinary organic acids in healthy captive cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus)

12 May 2017

In captivity, cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) frequently suffer from several unusual chronic diseases that rarely occur in their free-ranging counterparts. In order to develop a better understanding of their metabolism and health we documented the urine organic acids of 41 apparently healthy captive cheetahs, in an untargeted metabolomic study, using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. A total of 339 organic acids were detected and annotated. Phenolic compounds, thought to be produced by the anaerobic fermentation of aromatic amino acids in the distal colon, as well as their corresponding glycine conjugates, were present in high concentrations. The most abundant organic acids in the cheetahs urine were an as yet unidentified compound and a novel cadaverine metabolite, tentatively identified as N1,N5-dimethylpentane-1,5-diamine. Pantothenic acid and citramalic acid concentrations correlated negatively with age, while glutaric acid concentrations correlated positively with age, suggesting possible dysregulation of coenzyme A metabolism in older cheetahs. This study provides a baseline of urine organic acid reference values in captive cheetahs and suggests important avenues for future research in this species.