Background We performed metabolomic profiling to identify metabolites that correlate with disease progression and death. Methods We performed a study of adults hospitalized with Influenza A(H1N1)pdm09. Cases (n = 32) were defined by a composite outcome of death or transfer to the intensive care unit during the 60-day follow-up period. Controls (n = 64) were survivors who did not require transfer to the ICU. Four hundred and eight metabolites from eight families were measured on plasma sample at enrollment using a mass spectrometry based Biocrates platform. Conditional logistic regression was used to summarize the association of the individual metabolites and families with the composite outcome and its major two components. Results The ten metabolites with the strongest association with disease progression belonged to five different metabolite families with sphingolipids being the most common. The acylcarnitines, glycerides, sphingolipids and biogenic metabolite families had the largest odds ratios based on the composite endpoint. The tryptophan odds ratio for the composite is largely associated with death (OR 17.33: 95% CI, 1.60–187.76). Conclusions Individuals that develop disease progression when infected with Influenza H1N1 have a metabolite signature that differs from survivors. Low levels of tryptophan had a strong association with death. Registry ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT01056185
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