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Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine ›› 2012, Vol. 10 ›› Issue (7): 757-765.doi: 10.3736/jcim20120706

• Original Clinical Research • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Metabolite changes in the greasy tongue coating of patients with chronic gastritis

Fu-feng Li(), Jie Zhao,Peng Qian, Yi-qin Wang, Jing-jing Fu, Zhu-mei Sun, Hai-xia Yan, Li Yang#br#   

  1. Research Laboratory of Four Diagnostic Methods of Traditional Chinese Medicine Comprehensive Information Technology, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai 201203, China
  • Received:2011-11-25 Accepted:2012-01-10 Online:2012-07-20 Published:2018-07-15
  • Contact: Fu-feng Li E-mail:li_fufeng@yahoo.com.cn

Objective: To explore the changes in metabolites in the greasy tongue coating in patients with chronic gastritis.
Methods: Forty chronic gastritis patients presenting with greasy tongue coating, 30 chronic gastritis patients presenting with non-greasy tongue coating, and 20 healthy control persons presenting with light red tongues and thin white coating were enrolled, and the tongue coating was detected by combining artificial diagnosis and the Z-BOX Tongue Digital Analyzer’s diagnosis. Samples of all the tongue coatings were collected before treatment. The metabolic fingerprinting of the tongue coating samples was obtained using ultra-performance liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry (UPLC-MS), and the metabolic components in the tongue coating samples were detected. After this, principal component analysis, partial least squares discriminant analysis and orthogonal partial least squares discriminant analysis (OPLS-DA) were used to identify potential metabolic markers. Finally, the components were identified using the Chemspider and HMDB searching.
Results: UPLC-MS results were analyzed by OPLS-DA and showed that the metabolites among the three groups were distributed in different regions. The different potential metabolic markers between the patients with or without greasy coating were 3-ketolactose, 2-deoxy-D-ribose, UDP-D-galactose metarhodopsin, ascorbate, picolinate and histidine. The different potential metabolic markers between the greasy coating group and the normal group were 3-ketolactose, UDP-D-galactose, leukotriene A4 and vitamin D2.
Conclusion: The metabolites of the greasy coating group, the non-greasy coating group and the normal group show significant differences in energy metabolism, mainly of glucose metabolism. This demonstrated that glucose metabolism may be one of the mechanisms leading to the formation of greasy coating.

Key words: greasy tongue fur, chronic gastritis, metabolomics, liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry, controlled clinical trial

Figure 1

Typical UPLC-MS metabolic fingerprinting charts of the chronic gastritis groups and normal group UPLC-MS: ultra-performance liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry."

Table 1

Gender and age distribution of 70 patients with chronic gastritis and 20 normal subjects"

Group n Gender Age
(x±s, years)
Male Female
Normal tongue coating 20 9 11 44.60±14.78
Greasy tongue coating 40 23 17 45.95±14.36
Non-greasy tongue coating 30 13 17 41.93±12.36

Table 2

Tongue color distribution of 70 patients with chronic gastritis (n, %)"

Group n Distrubution of tongue color
Pale red tongue Pale tongue Light purple tongue Red tongue Dark red tongue
Greasy tongue coating 40 10 (25.0%) 8 (20.0%) 7 (17.5%) 8 (20.0%) 7 (17.5%)
Non-greasy tongue coating 30 7 (23.3%) 7 (23.3%) 6 (20.0%) 6 (20.0%) 4 (13.3%)

Figure 2

Metabolic map of tongue coating of patients with chronic gastritis or normal subjects analyzed by PCA and PLS-DA A: Results of PCA; B: Results of PLS-DA. 1: Chronic gastritis group; 2: Normal tongue coating group. PCA: principal component analysis; PLS-DA: partial least squares discriminant analysis."

Figure 3

Metabolic map of tongue coating of three groups analyzed by PCA and PLS-DA A: Results of PCA; B: Results of PLS-DA. 1: Greasy tongue coating group; 2: Non-greasy tongue coating group; 3: Normal tongue coating group. PCA: principal component analysis; PLS-DA: partial least squares discriminant analysis."

Figure 4

OPLS-DA score plot of metabolic profiles of greasy tongue coating group and non-greasy tongue coating group with chronic gastritis 1: Greasy tongue coating group; 2: Non-greasy tongue coating group. OPLS-DA: orthogonal partial least squares discriminant analysis."

Figure 5

OPLS-DA loading chart of metabolic profiles of greasy tongue coating group and non-greasy tongue coating group with chronic gastritis OPLS-DA: orthogonal partial least squares discriminant analysis."

Table 3

Potential markers and the relative content in greasy tongue coating group compared to non-greasy tongue coating group"

Retention time (tR/min) Mass to charge ratio (m/z) Value of VIP Compound Compared to non-greasy
tongue coating group
3.62 340 2.41 3-Ketolactose
4.08 379.2 2.28 Metarhodopsin
0.81 176.0 2.19 Ascorbate
9.71 123 2.25 Picolinate
0.79 134 2.31 2-Deoxy-D-ribose
3.61 155.0 2.01 Histidine
3.89 566.1 2.37 UDP-D-galactose

Figure 6

OPLS-DA score plot of metabolic profiles of greasy tongue coating group and normal group 1: Greasy tongue coating group; 3: Normal tongue coating group. OPLS-DA: orthogonal partial least squares discriminant analysis."

Figure 7

OPLS-DA loading chart of metabolic profiles of greasy tongue coating group and normal group OPLS-DA: orthogonal partial least squares discriminant analysis."

Table 4

Potential markers and the relative content of greasy tongue coating group compared to normal group"

Retention time (tR/min) Mass to charge ratio (m/z) Value of VIP Compound Compared to normal group
4.07 340.1 3.25 3-Ketolactose
3.59 566.0 2.38 UDP-D-galactose
8.18 318 2.22 Leukotriene A4
4.06 396.8 3.13 Vitamin D2
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