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Metabolites

Cellular activities are determined by genes, proteins and small molecules. Functional changes of macromolecules (e.g. nucleic acids and proteins) are reflected at the metabolic level, such as in neurotransmitters and molecules involved in hormone regulation, energy transfer, etc., while non-functional modulations of many genes and proteins will be filtered. Therefore, metabolic compositions and their deviations in levels highly reflect the interaction between genes and the environment, hence directly indicating the status of a biological system. Unlike genomics and proteomics, the difficulties in metabolomics are reproducibility and standardization during data acquisition; the bottleneck in metabolomics is metabolite characterization (annotation). These factors restrict the application and promotion of metabolomics. 


Metabolomics based on Mass Spectrometry

Metabolomics is the comprehensive qualitative and quantitative analysis of  metabolites in biological systems. Given its high sensitivity, reproducibility and versatility, mass spectrometry has become one of the major methods to study metabolomics.



Application

Being one of the earliest research areas in system biology, metabolomics now has become an indispensable research tool in the fields of medical research, life science research, food and environment safety certification. It is well known that cellular activities are determined by genes, proteins and small molecules. Functional changes in macromolecules (e.g. nucleic acid and proteins) are reflected at the metabolic levels, such as level changes in neurotransmitters and molecules involved in hormone regulation and energy transfer, etc. Non-functional modulations of many genes and proteins on the other hand will be filtered. Therefore, metabolic compositions and their deviation in levels highly reflect the interaction between genes and the environment and directly indicate the status of a biological system. Different from genomics and proteomics, the unique challenges of metabolomics lies in the difficulties of repeatability and standardization during data acquisition, and metabolite characterization (annotation). Altogether these factors have restricted further and broader metabolimics applications.