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Brief Bioinform. 2006 Jun;7(2):151-8. Epub 2006 May 11.

Review: on the analysis and interpretation of correlations in metabolomic data.

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University Potsdam, Insitute of Physics, Am Neuen Palais 10, Haus 19, 14469 Potsdam, Germany.


A remarkable inherent feature of cellular metabolism is that the concentrations of a small but significant number of metabolites are strongly correlated when measurements of biological replicates are performed. This review seeks to summarize the recent efforts to elucidate the origin of these observed correlations and points out several aspects concerning their interpretation. It is argued that correlations between metabolites differ profoundly from their transcriptomic and proteomic counterparts, and a straightforward interpretation in terms of the underlying biochemical pathways will unavoidably fail. It is demonstrated that the comparative correlations analysis offers a way to exploit the observed correlations to obtain additional information about the physiological state of the system.

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