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Metabolic biomarkers have potentially wider use in disease diagnosis and prognosis as well as in monitoring disease response to treatment. While biomarkers such as interleukins, microRNA, and lactate have been proposed for disease surveillance, there are still conflicting results regarding their clinical utility. Treatment of commonly encountered disease of acute care such as sepsis, trauma, and poisoning often relies on clinical diagnosis and therapy guided by use of surrogate markers of illness severity. The measurement of mitochondrial function, including respiration and motility, may offer superior alternatives to such markers. Assessing mitochondrial function in a clinical context has the potential to impact the area of acute care in terms of diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment. The study of mitochondrial bioenergetics has become critical in understanding the pathophysiology and treatment of complex diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disorders.