Biochemical investigations on the regulatory mechanisms of red blood cell (RBC) and platelet (PLT) metabolism have fostered a century of advances in the field of transfusion medicine. Owing to these advances, storage of RBCs and PLT concentrates has become a lifesaving practice in clinical and military settings. There, however, remains room for improvement, especially with regard to the introduction of novel storage and/or rejuvenation solutions, alternative cell processing strategies (e.g., pathogen inactivation technologies), and quality testing (e.g., evaluation of novel containers with alternative plasticizers). Recent advancements in mass spectrometry-based metabolomics and systems biology, the bioinformatics integration of omics data, promise to speed up the design and testing of innovative storage strategies developed to improve the quality, safety, and effectiveness of blood products. Here we review the currently available metabolomics technologies and briefly describe the routine workflow for transfusion medicine-relevant studies. The goal is to provide transfusion medicine experts with adequate tools to navigate through the otherwise overwhelming amount of metabolomics data burgeoning in the field during the past few years. Descriptive metabolomics data have represented the first step omics researchers have taken into the field of transfusion medicine. However, to up the ante, clinical and omics experts will need to merge their expertise to investigate correlative and mechanistic relationships among metabolic variables and transfusion-relevant variables, such as 24-hour in vivo recovery for transfused RBCs. Integration with systems biology models will potentially allow for in silico prediction of metabolic phenotypes, thus streamlining the design and testing of alternative storage strategies and/or solutions.
© 2015 AABB.