Volume 18 of the series Topics in Current Genetics pp 11-52


Analytical methods from the perspective of method standardization

  • Silas G. Villas-BôasAffiliated withAgResearch Limited, Grasslands Research Centre Email author 
  • , Albert KoulmanAffiliated withAgResearch Limited, Grasslands Research Centre
  • , Geoffrey A. LaneAffiliated withAgResearch Limited, Grasslands Research Centre

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Variability between laboratories, between instruments and between analysts within the same laboratoryis an important issue of practical concern for metabolomics. Method standardization is essentialfor comparability of metabolomics data between experiments and laboratories in multi-disciplinarystudies. However agreed standard requirements to extract metabolites, to concentrate cell extractsand to detect low molecular weight molecules in biological samples are lacking, and this significantlylimits data comparison. This chapter reviews the sources of variation in analytical methods in currentuse and outlines possible quality specifications for global metabolite analysis. We categorize thesources of variability as pre-analytical (sampling and sample preparation), intra-analytical (instrumentation)and post-analytical (data mining and handling). The broad range of applicability of metabolomicsprecludes a generalised uniform approach. However by analyzing the factors influencing metabolitemeasurements, we aim to highlight areas for developing recommendations for method standardizationthat minimize analytical variation and specifications of performance standards including quality controlprocedures and measures of data quality in order to improve laboratory performance and to enable scientistto compare data across studies.