, 15:33 | Cite as

Untargeted metabolomics analysis of the upper respiratory tract of ferrets following influenza A virus infection and oseltamivir treatment

  • David J. BealeEmail author
  • Ding Yuan OhEmail author
  • Avinash V. Karpe
  • Celeste Tai
  • Michael S. Dunn
  • Danielle Tilmanis
  • Enzo A. Palombo
  • Aeron C. Hurt
Original Article



Influenza is a highly contagious respiratory disease that causes high global morbidity and mortality each year. The dynamics of an influenza infection on the host metabolism, and how metabolism is altered in response to neuraminidase inhibitor drug therapy, is still in its infancy but of great importance.


We aim to investigate the suitability of ferret nasal wash samples for metabolomics-based analysis and characterization of influenza infections and oseltamivir treatment.


Virological and metabolic analyses were performed on nasal wash samples collected from ferrets treated with oseltamivir or a placebo. Untargeted metabolomics was performed using a gas chromatography coupled with mass spectrometery (GC-MS) based protocol that comprised a retention time (RT) locked method and the use of a commercial metabolomics library.


Ferret activity was reduced at 2–3 days post infection, which coincided with the highest influenza viral titre. The metabolomics data indicated a shift in metabolism during various stages of infection. The neuraminidase inhibitor oseltamivir created considerable downregulation of energy center metabolites (glucose, sucrose, glycine and glutamine), which generated high levels of branched amino acids. This further increased branched amino acid degradation and deregulation via glycerate-type intermediates and biosynthesis of fatty acids in oseltamivir-treated animals where abrogated weight loss was observed.


Metabolomics was used to profile influenza infection and antiviral drug treatment in ferrets. This has the potential to provide indicators for the early diagnosis of influenza infection and assess the effectiveness of drug therapies.


Influenza virus Oseltamivir Metabolomics GC-MS Chemometrics Branched amino acid down-regulation 



The Melbourne WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza is supported by the Australian Government Department of Health.

Author contributions

DJB and DYO performed the experiments, data analysis and co-wrote the paper; AVK, CT, MSD and DT provided technical support and performed part of the sample analysis with DJB and DYO; EAP and ACH assisted to devise and supervised the project. All authors contributed to the authorship of the manuscript and have read and approved the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.

Supplementary material

11306_2019_1499_MOESM1_ESM.docx (478 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 477 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), Land & WaterBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza, VIDRL, at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and ImmunityMelbourneAustralia
  3. 3.School of Health and Life SciencesFederation UniversityChurchillAustralia
  4. 4.Analytical Science and TechnologySeqirusParkvilleAustralia
  5. 5.Faculty of Science, Engineering and TechnologySwinburne University of TechnologyHawthornAustralia
  6. 6.Department of Microbiology and ImmunologyUniversity of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia

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