Metabolomic Approaches to Study Chemical Exposure-Related Metabolism Alterations in Mammalian Cell Cultures
Journal: 2020/September - International Journal of Molecular Sciences
Biological organisms are constantly exposed to an immense repertoire of molecules that cover environmental or food-derived molecules and drugs, triggering a continuous flow of stimuli-dependent adaptations. The diversity of these chemicals as well as their concentrations contribute to the multiplicity of induced effects, including activation, stimulation, or inhibition of physiological processes and toxicity. Metabolism, as the foremost phenotype and manifestation of life, has proven to be immensely sensitive and highly adaptive to chemical stimuli. Therefore, studying the effect of endo- or xenobiotics over cellular metabolism delivers valuable knowledge to apprehend potential cellular activity of individual molecules and evaluate their acute or chronic benefits and toxicity. The development of modern metabolomics technologies such as mass spectrometry or nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy now offers unprecedented solutions for the rapid and efficient determination of metabolic profiles of cells and more complex biological systems. Combined with the availability of well-established cell culture techniques, these analytical methods appear perfectly suited to determine the biological activity and estimate the positive and negative effects of chemicals in a variety of cell types and models, even at hardly detectable concentrations. Metabolic phenotypes can be estimated from studying intracellular metabolites at homeostasis in vivo, while in vitro cell cultures provide additional access to metabolites exchanged with growth media. This article discusses analytical solutions available for metabolic phenotyping of cell culture metabolism as well as the general metabolomics workflow suitable for testing the biological activity of molecular compounds. We emphasize how metabolic profiling of cell supernatants and intracellular extracts can deliver valuable and complementary insights for evaluating the effects of xenobiotics on cellular metabolism. We note that the concepts and methods discussed primarily for xenobiotics exposure are widely applicable to drug testing in general, including endobiotics that cover active metabolites, nutrients, peptides and proteins, cytokines, hormones, vitamins, etc.
Keywords: NMR; cell cultures; endometabolome; exometabolome; exposome; mass spectrometry; metabolomics; xenobiotics.
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