The emergence of metabolomics as a necessity of life-sciences research. This new discipline, developed in the mid-1990s, is used for qualitative and quantitative analysis of metabolites of small molecules, the relative molecular weight of which is less than 1000 in a certain organism or cell.
Metabonomics, as an important part of systems biology, has wide application prospects in clinical medicine. This discipline was developed after genomics and proteomics, which explore life activities at the gene and protein levels, respectively. In fact, many life activities in cells that occur at the metabolite level, such as cell-signal release, energy transfer, intercellular communication, are regulated by metabolites. Genes are closely related to protein expression, whereas metabolites more clearly reflect the environment of cells, which is closely related to the nutritional status of cells, the role of drugs and environmental pollutants, and other external factors. So, some people describe the difference between genomics, proteomics, and metabolomics by saying that the first 2 disciplines tell you what might happen but metabolomics tells you what did happen.
In conclusion, in-depth study of the metabolic products of the human body can help laboratory and health care professionals to judge whether the body is in a healthy state—the study of genes and proteins cannot accurately develop such a conclusion. In fact, metabonomics studies can already diagnose certain metabolic diseases, such as diabetes mellitus, obesity, metabolic syndrome, and related diseases in the pancreas. Based on the related research results we mentioned herein, we believe that using the metabonomics method to explore new differential treatment and prevention efforts to combat pancreas-related diseases has broad prospects. However, before metabonomics can be widely applied in the clinical setting, further exploration and experiment validation are needed.
NMR, nuclear magnetic resonance; MS, mass spectrometry; LC-MS, liquid chromatography combined with mass spectrometry; LC, liquid chromatography; HPLC, high-performance liquid chromatography; GC, gas chromatography; PC, pancreatic cancer; AP, acute pancreatitis; CP, chronic pancreatitis; CT, computed tomography; ERCP, endoscopic retroperitoneal cholangiopancreatography; MRCP, magnetic retroperitoneal cholangiopancreatography; GC-MS, gas chromatography–mass spectrometry; CHO, cholelithiasis; UPLC-HRMS, ultra–high-performance liquid chromatography coupled with high-resolution mass spectrometry; OPLS-DA, orthogonal projection latent structure discriminant analysis; HLP, hyperlipidemic pancreatitis; MPD, main pancreatic duct; 1H NMR, 1H nuclear magnetic resonance; GlcA, glucuronic acid.
Lab Med. 2020;51(2):116-121. © 2020 American Society for Clinical Pathology