Journal Articles

Lessons learned from metabolomics in cystic fibrosis

October 26, 2015

Lessons learned from metabolomics in cystic fibrosisMolecular and Cellular Pediatrics 2015, Marianne S. Muhlebach1* and Wei Sha2

1Department Pediatrics, Division Pulmonology, UNC Chapel Hill 430 MacNider, CB 7217, Chapel Hill 27599-7217, NC, USA

2Bioinformatics Services Division, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Kannapolis 28081, NC, USA


Cystic fibrosis is a mono-genetic multi-system disease; however, respiratory manifestations cause the main morbidity and mortality where chronic bacterial infections lead to bronchiectasis and ultimately respiratory failure. Metabolomics allows a relatively complete snapshot of metabolic processes in a sample using different mass spectrometry methods. Sample types used for discovery of biomarkers or pathomechanisms in cystic fibrosis (CF) have included blood, respiratory secretions, and exhaled breath to date. Metabolomics has shown distinction of CF vs. non-CF for matrices of blood, exhaled breath, and respiratory epithelial cultures, each showing different pathways. Severity of lung disease has been addressed by studies in bronchoalveolar lavage and exhaled breath condensate showing separation by metabolites that the authors of each study related to inflammation; e.g., ethanol, acetone, purines. Lipidomics has been applied to blood and sputum samples showing associations with lung function and Pseudomonas aeruginosainfection status. Finally, studies of bacteria grown in vitro showed differences of bacterial metabolites to be associated with clinical parameters. Metabolomics, in the sense of global metabolomic profiling, is a powerful technique that has allowed discovery of pathways that had not previously been implicated in CF. These may include purines, mitochondrial pathways, and different aspects of glucose metabolism besides the known differences in lipid metabolism in CF. However, targeted studies to validate such potential metabolites and pathways of interest are necessary. Studies evaluating metabolites of bacterial origin are in their early stages. Thus further well-designed studies could be envisioned.

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