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The term metabolome was coined in analogy to the terms genome , transcriptome and proteome and named accordingly. The word is derived from metabolism (= metabolism ). The term Metabonom is also occasionally used, especially in connection with the toxicity assessment of active substances. The exact differences between Metabolom and Metabonom is lively discussed.

The metabolome as a complex reaction network combines all the characteristic metabolic properties of a cell, tissue or organism.

This includes:

  • the flow rates (= turnover rates), metabolite levels and enzyme activities of the individual metabolic pathways,
  • the interactions between the various metabolic pathways as well
  • the compartmentalization of the various metabolic pathways within the cells.

Another aspect is the influence of the nutrient supply and the effect of active substances on the metabolism and the various functions of the cells, such as cell proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis .

The study of the metabolome is known as metabolomics (in English metabolomics or metabonomics ). This includes the interaction of the metabolites contained therein, their identification and quantification (see proteome and genome ). The essential analytical methods used in metabolomics are GC / MS and LC / MS as well as NMR spectroscopy and ion mobility spectrometers . The methods can be broken down into separation techniques, ionization techniques and detection techniques. Since the metabolites can be very different in terms of their chemical composition and structure, it is often not enough to use just one analytical method to completely elucidate the metabolome of an organism. In addition, it is still not known how many metabolic products there are. The most common sample types are body fluids such as plasma or serum , but also urine , cerebrospinal fluid , synovial fluid , sputum or lavage. In addition, tissue homogenates or cells or supernatants from cell cultures come into consideration.

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