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Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2013 Feb;24(1):95-104. doi: 10.1016/j.copbio.2012.10.021. Epub 2012 Dec 13.

Progress toward single cell metabolomics.

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Department of Chemistry and the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801, USA.


The metabolome refers to the entire set of small molecules, or metabolites, within a biological sample. These molecules are involved in many fundamental intracellular functions and reflect the cell's physiological condition. The ability to detect and identify metabolites and determine and monitor their amounts at the single cell level enables an exciting range of studies of biological variation and functional heterogeneity between cells, even within a presumably homogenous cell population. Significant progress has been made in the development and application of bioanalytical tools for single cell metabolomics based on mass spectrometry, microfluidics, and capillary separations. Remarkable improvements in the sensitivity, specificity, and throughput of these approaches enable investigation of multiple metabolites simultaneously in a range of individual cell samples.

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