Two-dimensional (2D) correlation analysis has been used in this study to identify changes in complex nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) metabonomics spectra of rat urine samples obtained during a study in which vasculitis (vascular injury), an important safety element in preclinical trials, was induced. Two types of correlation analysis were performed, along the variables and along the samples, and both 2D covariance and correlation coefficient maps were calculated. The binned and 'raw' NMR spectra were analyzed (0.04 and 0.001 ppm resolution, respectively). Good correlation was found among the major peaks of the binned spectra, and two groups of samples were identified using sample–sample 2D correlation maps. Much more complex correlation features were obtained from the 'raw' spectra, in which the specific, butterfly-like patterns were obtained in the covariance map but with only a few significant correlation coefficients in the corresponding 2D correlation maps. In terms of classification, the same group of the last nine spectra that indicated the end of the process and clustered in the 2D sample–sample covariance map of the binned data was also found in the 2D sample–sample covariance map of the raw NMR spectra but, again, not in the 2D correlation coefficient map. A discussion is given on the details of the application of the correlation analysis with regard to spectral data resolution, alignment, the effect of actual intensities of the NMR signal, and reference to various results from 2D correlation analysis of vibrational spectra.
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