Translational and emerging clinical applications of metabolomics in cardiovascular disease diagnosis and treatment

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Numerous molecular screening strategies have recently been developed to measure the chemical diversity of a population's biofluids with the ultimate aim to provide clinicians, medical scientists and epidemiologists with a clearer picture of the presence and severity of cardiovascular disease; prognosis; and response to treatment. Current cardiology practice integrates clinical history and examination with state-of-the-art imaging, invasive measures, and electrical interrogation. Biomarkers in common clinical use are relatively limited to troponin and brain natriuretic peptide, dependent on damage to heart muscle, or myocyte ‘stretch’ respectively. Although they have been recently applied to risk stratification in asymptomatic individuals at higher risk, the development of markers capable of detecting earlier phases of disease development would facilitate targeted strategies to prevent pathological complications in the general community. Metabolomics is the systematic study of small molecules in biological fluids. Profiling strategies aim to comprehensively measure and quantify such biomarkers in a fast, cost-effective and clinically informative manner. Techniques tend to be applied in an unbiased fashion, with advanced statistical methods allowing for identification of signature profiles in particular cohorts. In this manner, metabolomics has the potential to identify new pathophysiological pathways, and thus therapeutic targets, as well as assist in improved risk-stratification and personalized cardiovascular medicine. The latter has great potential in the primary and secondary cardiovascular disease prevention settings, integrating known and as yet unidentified host and environmental factors. The current review discusses applications of metabolomic techniques relevant to both the research and the clinical cardiologist.

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