Phytochemicals from diet and herbal medicines are under intensive investigation for their potential use as chemopreventive agents to block and suppress carcinogenesis. Chemical diversity of phytochemicals, together with complex metabolic interactions between phytochemicals and biological system, can overwhelm the capacity of traditional analytical platforms, and thus pose major challenges in studying chemopreventive phytochemicals. Recent progresses in metabolomics have transformed it to become a robust systems biology tool, suitable for examining both chemical and biochemical events that contribute to the cancer prevention activities of plant preparations or their bioactive components. This review aims to discuss the technical platform of metabolomics and its existing and potential applications in chemoprevention research, including identifying bioactive phytochemicals in plant extracts, monitoring phytochemical exposure in humans, elucidating biotransformation pathways of phytochemicals, and characterizing the effects of phytochemicals on endogenous metabolism and cancer metabolism.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Research projects in Dr. Chi Chen’s lab were supported in part by an Agricultural Experiment Station project MIN-18-082 from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). We thank all the members in Dr. Chi Chen’s lab for their help in preparing this manuscript.