Applications of liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry-based metabolomics in clinical chemistry and toxicology: A review
The metabolome is the set of small molecular mass organic compounds found in a given biological media. It includes all organic substances naturally occurring from the metabolism of the studied living organism, except biological polymers, but also xenobiotics and their biotransformation products. The metabolic fingerprints of biofluids obtained by mass spectrometry (MS) or nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR)-based methods contain a few hundreds to thousands of signals related to both genetic and environmental contributions. Metabolomics, which refers to the untargeted quantitative or semi-quantitative analysis of the metabolome, is a promising tool for biomarker discovery. Although proof-of-concept studies by metabolomics-based approaches in the field of toxicology and clinical chemistry have initially been performed using NMR, the use of liquid chromatography hyphenated to mass spectrometry (LC/MS) has increased over the recent years, providing complementary results to those obtained with other approaches. This paper reviews and comments the input of LC/MS in this field. We describe here the overall process of analysis, review some seminal papers in the field and discuss the perspectives of metabolomics for the biomonitoring of exposure and diagnosis of diseases.