OPEN Human genomics | 28 Jan 2018
NJW Rattray, NC Deziel, JD Wallach, SA Khan, V Vasiliou, JPA Ioannidis and CH Johnson
Over the past 20 years, advances in genomic technology have enabled unparalleled access to the information contained within the human genome. However, the multiple genetic variants associated with various diseases typically account for only a small fraction of the disease risk. This may be due to the multifactorial nature of disease mechanisms, the strong impact of the environment, and the complexity of gene-environment interactions. Metabolomics is the quantification of small molecules produced by metabolic processes within a biological sample. Metabolomics datasets contain a wealth of information that reflect the disease state and are consequent to both genetic variation and environment. Thus, metabolomics is being widely adopted for epidemiologic research to identify disease risk traits. In this review, we discuss the evolution and challenges of metabolomics in epidemiologic research, particularly for assessing environmental exposures and providing insights into gene-environment interactions, and mechanism of biological impact.
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