Understanding Cellular Phenotype
Metabolomics, a systems biology tool, is defined as the comprehensive profiling of all the biochemicals and metabolites in a biological sample. It is nonhypothesis driven so that no specific class of biochemicals or particular pathways is targeted. The majority of metabolomics studies are done using mass spectrometry, often coupled with another chromatographic method for better resolution of components. This analysis reveals changes in biochemicals and their associated pathways that are related to the experimental design, including drug, disease, diet, or environmental effects. Because these changes are closely related to the biological phenotype (Figure 1), a metabolomic analysis can provide insight into mechanism (e.g., drug toxicity) as well as markers related to the phenotype (e.g., diagnostic markers of disease).