A review of metabolomics approaches and their application in identifying causal pathways of childhood asthma

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Because asthma is a disease that results from host-environment interactions, an approach that allows assessment of the effect of the environment on the host is needed to understand the disease. Metabolomics has appealing potential as an application to study pathways to childhood asthma development. The objective of this review is to provide an overview of metabolomics methods and their application to understanding host-environment pathways in asthma development. We reviewed recent literature on advances in metabolomics and their application to study pathways to childhood asthma development. We highlight the (1) potential of metabolomics in understanding the pathogenesis of disease and the discovery of biomarkers; (2) choice of metabolomics techniques, biospecimen handling, and data analysis; (3) application to studying the role of the environment on asthma development; (4) review of metabolomics applied to the outcome of asthma; (5) recommendations for application of metabolomics-based -omics data integration in understanding disease pathogenesis; and (6) limitations. In conclusion, metabolomics allows use of biospecimens to identify useful biomarkers and pathways involved in disease development and subsequently to inform a greater understanding of disease pathogenesis and endotypes and prediction of the clinical course of childhood asthma phenotypes.

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