, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 50–63 | Cite as

Analyzing metabolomics-based challenge tests

  • Daniel J. Vis
  • Johan A. Westerhuis
  • Doris M. Jacobs
  • John P. M. van Duynhoven
  • Suzan Wopereis
  • Ben van Ommen
  • Margriet M. W. B. Hendriks
  • Age K. Smilde
Review Article


Challenge tests are used to assess the resilience of human beings to perturbations by analyzing responses to detect functional abnormalities. Well known examples are allergy tests and glucose tolerance tests. Increasingly, metabolomics analysis of blood or serum samples is used to analyze the biological response of the individual to these challenges. The information content of such metabolomics challenge test data involves both the disturbance and restoration of homeostasis on a metabolic level and is thus inherently different from the analysis of steady state data. It opens doors to study the variation of resilience between individuals beyond the classical biomarkers; preferably in terms of underlying biological processes. We review challenge tests in which metabolomics was used to analyze the biological response. Specifically, we describe strategies to perform statistical analyses on the responses and we will show some examples of these strategies applied to a postprandial challenge that was used to study a diet with anti-inflammatory properties. Finally we discuss open issues and give recommendation for further research.


Challenge tests Perturbation Statistical analysis Review Redefining health 



Gooitzen Zwanenburg is acknowledged for kindly providing the minimal glucose model results. The research was funded by the Netherlands Metabolomics Centre (NMC), which is a part of The Netherlands Genomics Initiative/Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research.

Supplementary material

11306_2014_673_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (240 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (pdf 239 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel J. Vis
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 7
  • Johan A. Westerhuis
    • 2
    • 7
  • Doris M. Jacobs
    • 4
    • 7
  • John P. M. van Duynhoven
    • 4
    • 6
    • 7
  • Suzan Wopereis
    • 5
    • 7
  • Ben van Ommen
    • 5
    • 7
  • Margriet M. W. B. Hendriks
    • 3
    • 7
  • Age K. Smilde
    • 2
    • 7
  1. 1.Department of Metabolic DiseasesUniversity Medical CenterUtrechtThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Biosystems Data Analysis, Swammerdam Institute for Life SciencesUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  3. 3.LACDRLeiden UniversityLeidenThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Unilever R&DVlaardingenThe Netherlands
  5. 5.TNOZeistThe Netherlands
  6. 6.Wageningen UniversityWageningenThe Netherlands
  7. 7.Netherlands Metabolomics CentreLeidenThe Netherlands

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