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World J Pharmacol. Sep 9, 2014; 3(3): 33-38
Published online Sep 9, 2014. doi: 10.5497/wjp.v3.i3.33
Overview on metabolomics in traditional Chinese medicine
Shi Qiu, Ai-Hua Zhang, Hui Sun, Guang-Li Yan, Xi-Jun Wang
Shi Qiu, Ai-Hua Zhang, Hui Sun, Guang-Li Yan, Xi-Jun Wang, National TCM Key Laboratory of Serum Pharmacochemistry, Laboratory of Metabolomics and Chinmedomics, Department of Pharmaceutical Analysis, Heilongjiang University of Chinese Medicine, Harbin 150040, Heilongjiang Province, China
Author contributions: Qiu S and Sun H conceived of the study and wrote the manuscript; Zhang AH and Wang XJ helped revise the manuscript; Yan GL contributed to manuscript generation.
Supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China, Nos. 81173500, 81373930, 81302905, 81102556, and 81202639; National Key Technology Research and Development Program of the Ministry of Science and Technology of China, Nos. 2011BAI03B03, 2011BAI03B06, and 2011BAI03B08; National Key Subject of Drug Innovation, No. 2009ZX09502-005; and Foundation of Heilongjiang University of Chinese Medicine, No. 201209
Correspondence to: Xi-Jun Wang, Professor, National TCM Key Laboratory of Serum Pharmacochemistry, Laboratory of Metabolomics and Chinmedomics, Department of Pharmaceutical Analysis, Heilongjiang University of Chinese Medicine, Heping Road 24, Harbin 150040, Heilongjiang Province, China. xijunwangls@126.com
Telephone: +86-451-82110818 Fax: +86-451-82110818
Received: March 26, 2014
Revised: July 2, 2014
Accepted: July 27, 2014
Published online: September 9, 2014
Abstract

Metabolomics has been widely used in the modern research of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). At the same time, the world is increasingly concerned about TCM, and many studies have been conducted to investigate different aspects of TCM. Among these studies, metabolomic approach has been implemented to facilitate TCM development. The current methods for TCM research are diverse, including nuclear magnetic resonance, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, and liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. Using these techniques, some advantageous results have been obtained in the studies of TCM, such as diagnosis and treatment, quality control, and mechanisms of action. It is believed that the further development of metabolomic analytical techniques is beneficial to the modernization of TCM. This review summarizes potential applications of metabolomics in the area of TCM. Guidelines for good practice for the application of metabolomics in TCM research are also proposed, and the special role of metabolomics in TCM is highlighted.

Keywords: Traditional Chinese medicine, Metabolomics, Metabolite, Biomarker, Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry

Core tip: Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has been used for thousands of years to treat or prevent diseases. Actual value of TCM has not been fully recognized worldwide due to the lack of scientific approaches. Metabolomics has become a hot topic in TCM research. Metabolomics is the best method to fit the holistic concept of TCM, and it can not only interpret the essence of syndrome but also elucidate the scientific connotation of prescription. This combination of TCM with metabolomics in modern health care systems may lead to a revolution in TCM therapy.