Monday 14 July 2008
Metabolome refers to the complete set of small-molecule metabolites (such as metabolic intermediates, hormones and other signaling molecules, and secondary metabolites) to be found within a biological sample, such as a single organism.
Although the metabolome can be defined readily enough, it is not currently possible to analyse the entire range of metabolites by a single analytical method.
The first metabolite database(called METLIN) for searching m/z values from mass spectrometry data was developed by scientists at The Scripps Research Institute in 2005.
In January 2007, scientists at the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary completed the first draft of the human metabolome. They catalogued approximately 2500 metabolites, 1200 drugs and 3500 food components that can be found in the human body, as reported in the literature.
This information, available at the Human Metabolome Database (http://www.hmdb.ca) and based on analysis of information available in the current scientific literature, is far from complete.
In contrast, much more is known about the metabolomes of other organisms.
For example, over 50,000 metabolites have been characterized from the plant kingdom, and many thousands of metabolites have been identified and/or characterized from single plants