MetSigDis: a manually curated resource for the metabolic signatures of diseases

Brief Bioinform. 2019 Jan 18;20(1):203-209. doi: 10.1093/bib/bbx103.


Complex diseases cannot be understood only on the basis of single gene, single mRNA transcript or single protein but the effect of their collaborations. The combination consequence in molecular level can be captured by the alterations of metabolites. With the rapidly developing of biomedical instruments and analytical platforms, a large number of metabolite signatures of complex diseases were identified and documented in the literature. Biologists' hardship in the face of this large amount of papers recorded metabolic signatures of experiments' results calls for an automated data repository. Therefore, we developed MetSigDis aiming to provide a comprehensive resource of metabolite alterations in various diseases. MetSigDis is freely available at By reviewing hundreds of publications, we collected 6849 curated relationships between 2420 metabolites and 129 diseases across eight species involving Homo sapiens and model organisms. All of these relationships were used in constructing a metabolite disease network (MDN). This network displayed scale-free characteristics according to the degree distribution (power-law distribution with R2 = 0.909), and the subnetwork of MDN for interesting diseases and their related metabolites can be visualized in the Web. The common alterations of metabolites reflect the metabolic similarity of diseases, which is measured using Jaccard index. We observed that metabolite-based similar diseases are inclined to share semantic associations of Disease Ontology. A human disease network was then built, where a node represents a disease, and an edge indicates similarity of pair-wise diseases. The network validated the observation that linked diseases based on metabolites should have more overlapped genes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Computational Biology / methods
  • Databases, Factual / statistics & numerical data
  • Disease* / genetics
  • Humans
  • Metabolome*
  • Metabolomics / statistics & numerical data*
  • Search Engine