Metabolomics in asthma: where do we stand?

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Purpose of review

Metabolomics has been used to uncover the metabolic signatures of asthma, both for biomarker identification and pathophysiologic mechanisms research. We aimed to review recent advances in this field, published since 2016, and discuss these findings implications to future research and application into clinical practice.

Recent findings

Experimental asthma models and clinical studies in both children and adults supported independent metabolic signatures of asthma. Common reported pathways included purine, glycerophospholipid, glutathione, fatty acids, and arginine and proline metabolism. Metabolomics-based studies identified candidate biomarkers related to asthma severity and corticosteroid resistance, and supported the definition of the obesity-related phenotype at the molecular level. A systematic review with meta-analysis and recent prospective studies favored exhaled volatile organic compounds as one of the most promising biomarkers in asthma diagnosis and monitoring.


Metabolomics has provided unique and novel insights into asthma profiling at the molecular level. Current challenges include procedures standardization and control of potentially confounding variables for external validation. Point-of-care technology developments bring metabolomics closer to clinical practice. In addition to biomarkers identification, relating metabolites to their biologic role will serve as critical foundations for understanding the biology underpinning asthma heterogeneity and for specific-targeted therapies.

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