, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp 3–9 | Cite as

Metabolomics: building on a century of biochemistry to guide human health

  • J. Bruce German
  • Bruce D. Hammock
  • Steven M. WatkinsEmail author


Medical diagnosis and treatment efficacy will improve significantly when a more personalized system for health assessment is implemented. This system will require diagnostics that provide sufficiently detailed information about the metabolic status of individuals such that assay results will be able to guide food, drug and lifestyle choices to maintain or improve distinct aspects of health without compromising others. Achieving this goal will use the new science of metabolomics – comprehensive metabolic profiling of individuals linked to the biological understanding of human integrative metabolism. Candidate technologies to accomplish this goal are largely available, yet they have not been brought into practice for this purpose. Metabolomic technologies must be sufficiently rapid, accurate and affordable to be routinely accessible to both healthy and acutely ill individuals. The use of metabolomic data to predict the health trajectories of individuals will require bioinformatic tools and quantitative reference databases. These databases containing metabolite profiles from the population must be built, stored and indexed according to metabolic and health status. Building and annotating these databases with the knowledge to predict how a specific metabolic pattern from an individual can be adjusted with diet, drugs and lifestyle to improve health represents a logical application of the biochemistry knowledge that the life sciences have produced over the past 100 years.

Key words

metabolomics metabolic profiling human health 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Alberti, G. 2001Noncommunicable diseases: tomorrow’s pandemicsBull. World Health Organ.79907Google Scholar
  2. Brindle, J.T., Antti, H., Holmes, E.,  et al. 2002Rapid and noninvasive diagnosis of the presence and severity of coronary heart disease using 1H-NMR-based metabonomicsNat. Med.814391444Google Scholar
  3. Bruckert, E., Giral, P., Tellier, P. 2003Microarray analysis reveals a major direct role of DNA copy number alteration in the transcriptional program of human breast tumorsCirculation10731243128Google Scholar
  4. Carpenter, K.J. 2003aA short history of nutritional science: part 3 (1912–1944)J. Nutr.13330233032Google Scholar
  5. Carpenter, K.J. 2003bA short history of nutritional science: part 4 (1945–1985)J. Nutr.13333313342Google Scholar
  6. Castrillo, J.I., Hayes, A., Mohammed, S., Gaskell, S.J., Oliver, S.G. 2003An optimized protocol for metabolome analysis in yeast using direct infusion electrospray mass spectrometryPhytochemistry62929937Google Scholar
  7. Collins, F.S., Green, E.D., Guttmacher, A.E., Guyer, M.S. 2003Nature422835847Google Scholar
  8. Fiehn, O. 2003Metabolic networks of Cucurbita maxima phloemPhytochemistry62875886Google Scholar
  9. Grundy, S.M. 2002National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP)-The National Cholesterol Guidelines in 2001, Adult Treatment Panel (ATP) III. Approach to lipoprotein management in 2001 National Cholesterol GuidelinesAm. J. Cardiol.9011i21iGoogle Scholar
  10. Hood, L. 2003Systems biology: integrating technology, biology, and computationMech. Ageing Dev.124916Google Scholar
  11. Lamers, R.J., DeGroot, J., Spies-Faber, E.J.,  et al. 2003Identification of disease- and nutrient-related metabolic fingerprints in osteoarthritic Guinea pigsJ. Nutr.13317761780Google Scholar
  12. Lutjohann, D., Bjorkhem, I., Beil, U.F., von Bergmann, K. 1995Sterol absorption and sterol balance in phytosterolemia evaluated by deuterium-labeled sterols: effect of sitostanol treatmentJ. Lipid Res.3617631773Google Scholar
  13. Marcus, A.J., Broekman, M.J., Pinsky, D.J. 2002COX inhibitors and thromboregulationNew Engl. J. Med.34710251026Google Scholar
  14. Mussner, M.J., Parhofer, K.G., Von Bergmann, K., Schwandt, P., Broedl, U., Otto, C. 2002Effects of phytosterol ester-enriched margarine on plasma lipoproteins in mild to moderate hypercholesterolemia are related to basal cholesterol and fat intakeMetabolism51189194Google Scholar
  15. Newman, J.W., Watanabe, T., Hammock, B.D. 2002The simultaneous quantification of cytochrome P450 dependent linoleate and arachidonate metabolites in urine by HPLC-MS/MSJ. Lipid Res.4315631578Google Scholar
  16. Nicholson, J.K., Wilson, I.D. 2003Opinion: understanding ‘global’ systems biology: metabonomics and the continuum of metabolismNat. Rev. Drug Discov.2668676Google Scholar
  17. Nicholson, J.K., Lindon, J.C., Holmes, E. 1999Metabonomics’: understanding the metabolic responses of living systems to pathophysiological stimuli via multivariate statistical analysis of biological NMR spectroscopic dataXenobiotica2911811189Google Scholar
  18. Ohlmeier, S., Kastaniotis, A.J., Hiltunen, J.K., Bergmann, U. 2004The yeast mitochondrial proteome, a study of fermentative and respiratory growthJ. Biol. Chem.27939563979Google Scholar
  19. Pollack, J.R., Sorlie, T., Perou, C.M.,  et al. 2002Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA991296312968Google Scholar
  20. Puska, P. 2002Nutrition and global prevention on non-communicable diseasesAsia Pac. J. Clin. Nutr.11S755S758Google Scholar
  21. Shoda, J., Miyamoto, J., Kano, M.,  et al. 1997Simultaneous determination of plasma mevalonate and 7alpha-hydroxy-4-cholesten-3-one levels in hyperlipoproteinemia: convenient indices for estimating hepatic defects of cholesterol and bile acid syntheses and biliary cholesterol supersaturationHepatology251826Google Scholar
  22. Soga, T., Ohashi, Y., Ueno, Y., Naraoka, H., Tomita, M., Nishioka, T. 2003Quantitative metabolome analysis using capillary electrophoresis mass spectrometryJ. Proteome Res.2488494Google Scholar
  23. Watkins, S.M., Reifsnyder, P.R., Pan, H.J., German, J.B., Leiter, E.H. 2002Lipid metabolome-wide effects of the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor g agonist rosiglitazoneJ. Lipid Res.4318091817Google Scholar
  24. Watkins, S.M., Zhu, X., Zeisel, S.H. 2003J. Nutr.13333863391Google Scholar
  25. Weckwerth, W. 2003Metabolomics in systems biologyAnnu. Rev. Plant Biol.54669689Google Scholar
  26. Yoshida, T., Honda, A., Tanaka, N.,  et al. 1993Simultaneous determination of mevalonate and 7 alpha-hydroxycholesterol in human plasma by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry as indices of cholesterol and bile acid biosynthesisJ. Chromatogr.14185193Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Bruce German
    • 1
    • 2
  • Bruce D. Hammock
    • 3
  • Steven M. Watkins
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Food Science and TechnologyUniversity of CaliforniaDavisUSA
  2. 2.Nestle Research CenterSwitzerland
  3. 3.Department of Entomology and University of California Davis Cancer CenterDavisUSA
  4. 4.Lipomics Technologies, Inc.West SacramentoUSA

Personalised recommendations