Metabolome analysis: the potential of in vivo labeling with stable isotopes for metabolite profiling

Trends Biotechnol. 2005 Jan;23(1):28-33. doi: 10.1016/j.tibtech.2004.12.001.


Metabolome analysis technologies are still in early development because, unlike genome, transcriptome and proteome analyses, metabolome analysis has to deal with a highly diverse range of biomolecules. Combinations of different analytical platforms are therefore required for comprehensive metabolomic studies. Each of these platforms covers only part of the metabolome. To establish multiparallel technologies, thorough standardization of each measured metabolite is required. Standardization is best achieved by addition of a specific stable isotope-labeled compound, a mass isotopomer, for each metabolite. This suggestion, at first glance, seems unrealistic because of cost and time constraints. A possible solution to this problem is discussed in this article. Saturation in vivo labeling with stable isotopes enables the biosynthesis of differentially mass-labeled metabolite mixtures, which can be exploited for highly standardized metabolite profiling by mass isotopomer ratios.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biochemistry / methods*
  • Carbon Radioisotopes
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry / methods
  • Isotope Labeling / methods*
  • Metabolism*


  • Carbon Radioisotopes