Clinical Application of Metabolomics in Pancreatic Diseases

A Mini-Review

Wang Gu, MS; Zhong Tong, MS


Lab Med. 2020;51(2):116-121. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Metabolomics is a powerful new analytical method to describe the set of metabolites within cellular tissue and bodily fluids. Metabolomics can uncover detailed information about metabolic changes in organisms. The morphology of these metabolites represents the metabolic processes that occur in cells, such as anabolism, catabolism, inhomogeneous natural absorption and metabolism, detoxification, and metabolism of biomass energy. Because the metabolites of different diseases are different, the specificity of the changes can be found by metabolomics testing, which provides a new source of biomarkers for the early identification of diseases and the difference between benign and malignant states. Metabolomics has a wide application potential in pancreatic diseases, including early detection, diagnosis, and identification of pancreatic diseases. However, there are few studies on metabolomics in pancreatic diseases in the literature. This article reviews the application of metabolomics in the diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, and evaluation of pancreatic diseases.


Metabolomics is the comprehensive quantitative evaluation of endogenous metabolites in biological systems. This methodology is used to detect metabolites in cell tissues or biological fluids by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy or mass spectrometry (MS) and to track those changes in biological fluids and tissues.[1] The final products of the cell regulatory process are metabolites; the level of metabolites can be regarded as the final response of the biological system to genetic or environmental changes, which is the same as the transcriptome and proteome. A series of metabolites synthesized by the biological system constitutes its metabolome.[2] Metabolomics also involves a collection of downstream products, such as gene transcription translation and posttranslational protein modification. Therefore, metabolomics can be recognized as a more accurate method to express the true cell phenotype.

Also, metabolomics represents a powerful analytical tool for identifying cell differences among discrete populations.[3] By identifying as many metabolites as possible from the specimens and analyzing the metabolic state under different physical conditions,[4,5] the state of biological systems can be distinguished by the identification of metabolites with corresponding specificity and sensitivity.[6] MS combined with liquid chromatography (LC), or LC-MS, can be used throughout the body or as a target, and can detect bioactive metabolites in multiple billions of runs as data processors. With the increase of LC-MS, the development of LC-MS soon will be fruitful for researchers seeking a deeper understanding of human diseases, providing a new method for diagnosis and treatment.[7]

Metabonomics involves the use of NMR, MS, chromatography (high-performance liquid chromatography [HPLC] aand gas chromatography [GC]), and chromatography MS technology to detect diseases in a series of NMR-tested specimens. Based on metabonomics and using the method of pattern recognition, object pathological physiology was developed, allowing researchers to find out related biomarkers, thereby providing a platform to predict related early warning signals. This difference can often be used in distinguish related diseases for accurate early diagnosis and to distinguish benign from malignant neoplasms.