Metabolomics as a Driver in Advancing Precision Medicine in Sepsis

Michelle Eckerle, Lilliam Ambroggio, Michael A. Puskarich, Brent Winston, Alan E. Jones, Theodore J. Standiford, Kathleen A. Stringer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


The objective of this review is to explain the science of metabolomics—a science of systems biology that measures and studies endogenous small molecules (metabolites) that are present in a single biological sample—and its application to the diagnosis and treatment of sepsis. In addition, we discuss how discovery through metabolomics can contribute to the development of precision medicine targets for this complex disease state and the potential avenues for those new discoveries to be applied in the clinical environment. A nonsystematic literature review was performed focusing on metabolomics, pharmacometabolomics, and sepsis. Human (adult and pediatric) and animal studies were included. Metabolomics has been investigated in the diagnosis, prognosis, and risk stratification of sepsis, as well as for the identification of drug target opportunities. Metabolomics elucidates a new level of detail when compared with other systems biology sciences, with regard to the metabolites that are most relevant in the pathophysiology of sepsis, as well as highlighting specific biochemical pathways at work in sepsis. Metabolomics also highlights biochemical differences between sepsis survivors and nonsurvivors at a level of detail greater than that demonstrated by genomics, transcriptomics, or proteomics, potentially leading to actionable targets for new therapies. The application of pharmacometabolomics and its integration with other systems pharmacology to sepsis therapeutics could be particularly helpful in differentiating drug responders and nonresponders and furthering knowledge of mechanisms of drug action and response. The accumulated literature on metabolomics suggests it is a viable tool for continued discovery around the pathophysiology, diagnosis and prognosis, and treatment of sepsis in both adults and children, and it provides a greater level of biochemical detail and insight than other systems biology approaches. However, the clinical application of metabolomics in sepsis has not yet been fully realized. Prospective validation studies are needed to translate metabolites from the discovery phase into the clinical utility phase.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1023-1032
Number of pages10
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Pharmacotherapy Publications, Inc.

Copyright 2018 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • critical care
  • pediatrics
  • pharmacometabolomics
  • pharmacotherapy
  • systems biology
  • systems pharmacology


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