Metabolomics studies in brain tissue: A review

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Brain is still an organ with a composition to be discovered but beyond that, mental disorders and especially all diseases that curse with dementia are devastating for the patient, the family and the society. Metabolomics can offer an alternative tool for unveiling new insights in the discovery of new treatments and biomarkers of mental disorders. Until now, most of metabolomic studies have been based on biofluids: serum/plasma or urine, because brain tissue accessibility is limited to animal models or post mortem studies, but even so it is crucial for understanding the pathological processes. Metabolomics studies of brain tissue imply several challenges due to sample extraction, along with brain heterogeneity, sample storage, and sample treatment for a wide coverage of metabolites with a wide range of concentrations of many lipophilic and some polar compounds. In this review, the current analytical practices for target and non-targeted metabolomics are described and discussed with emphasis on critical aspects: sample treatment (quenching, homogenization, filtration, centrifugation and extraction), analytical methods, as well as findings considering the used strategies. Besides that, the altered analytes in the different brain regions have been associated with their corresponding pathways to obtain a global overview of their dysregulation, trying to establish the link between altered biological pathways and pathophysiological conditions.

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