Cancer cells exhibit profound alterations in their metabolism. The process of increased aerobic glycolysis supports cell proliferation and promotes cancer progression via alteration of glucose, glutamine and lipid metabolism. In recent years, extensive efforts have been devoted to revealing the mechanisms underlying for metabolic alterations in cancer, thus products of intermediary metabolism has been a topic of considerable research interest over the past decades. Metabolomics is defined as the quantitative measurement of the dynamic multiparametric metabolites. Identification and quantification of intermediary metabolism by metabolomics can better understand the metabolic changes in tumors. Hence metabolic profiling may be of broad utility for investigating the metabolic pathways and molecular mechanism of carcinogenesis, and as the powerful tool to screen the potential biomarkers for the early diagnosis of human cancer and drug responsiveness. This review article will summarize the overview of metabolomics and the target identification in metabolic pathway by metabolomics, as well as the application in cancer diagnosis and prognosis. In addition, we also critically evaluating the limitation of this approach, and present the potential applications of metabolite profiling in development of novel therapeutic strategy for cancer and precision medicine.
Li Wang, Xiaoxia Liu and Qian Yang