Objective: The present review describes commonly employed metabolic profiling platforms and discusses the current and likely future application of these technologies in surgery.
Background: The metabolic adaptations that occur in response to surgical illness and trauma are incompletely understood. Evaluating these will be critical to the development of personalized surgical health solutions. Metabonomics is an advancing field in systems biology, which provides a means of interrogating these metabolic shifts.
Methods: Recent literature regarding metabolic profiling technologies and their applications in surgical practice are discussed. Future strategies are proposed for the incorporation of these and next-generation technologies in the evaluation of all steps in the patient surgical pathway.
Results: Metabolite-based profiling has provided valuable insights into the metabolic irregularities that occur in cancer development and progression across a variety of cancer subclasses including colorectal, breast, prostate, and lung cancers. In addition, metabolic modeling has shown considerable promise in other surgical conditions including trauma and sepsis and in the assessment of pharmacotherapeutic efficacy.
Discussion: Metabonomics offers a posttranscriptional view of system activity providing functional information downstream of the genome and proteome. Information at this level will provide the surgeon with a novel means of evaluating major socioeconomic problems such as cancer and sepsis. In addition, the rapid nature of emerging next generation profiling platforms provides a viable means of "real-time" perioperative metabolic assessment and optimization.