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J Cell Physiol. 2012 Aug;227(8):2975-81. doi: 10.1002/jcp.24002.

Challenges and opportunities of metabolomics.

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Laboratory of Metabolism, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


The metabolome is a data-rich source of information concerning all the low-molecular-weight metabolites in a biofluid, which can indicate early biological changes to the host due to perturbations in metabolic pathways. Major changes can be seen after minor stimuli, which make it a valuable target for analysis. Due to the diverse and sensitive nature of the metabolome, studies must be designed in a manner to maintain consistency, reduce variation between subjects, and optimize information recovery. Technological advancements in experimental design, mouse models and instrumentation have aided in this effort. Metabolomics has the ultimate potential to be valuable in a clinical setting where it could be used for early diagnosis of a disease and as a predictor of treatment response and survival. During drug treatment, the metabolic status of an individual could be monitored and used to indicate possible toxic effects. Metabolomics therefore has great potential for improving diagnosis, treatment and aftercare of disease.

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