Exploring the Potential Role of Metabolomics in COPD: A Concise Review

Cells. 2024 Mar 7;13(6):475. doi: 10.3390/cells13060475.


Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a pathological condition of the respiratory system characterized by chronic airflow obstruction, associated with changes in the lung parenchyma (pulmonary emphysema), bronchi (chronic bronchitis) and bronchioles (small airways disease). In the last years, the importance of phenotyping and endotyping COPD patients has strongly emerged. Metabolomics refers to the study of metabolites (both intermediate or final products) and their biological processes in biomatrices. The application of metabolomics to respiratory diseases and, particularly, to COPD started more than one decade ago and since then the number of scientific publications on the topic has constantly grown. In respiratory diseases, metabolomic studies have focused on the detection of metabolites derived from biomatrices such as exhaled breath condensate, bronchoalveolar lavage, and also plasma, serum and urine. Mass Spectrometry and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy are powerful tools in the precise identification of potentially prognostic and treatment response biomarkers. The aim of this article was to comprehensively review the relevant literature regarding the applications of metabolomics in COPD, clarifying the potential clinical utility of the metabolomic profile from several biologic matrices in detecting biomarkers of disease and prognosis for COPD. Meanwhile, a complete description of the technological instruments and techniques currently adopted in the metabolomics research will be described.

Keywords: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease; exhaled breath condensate; mass spectrometry; metabolomics; nuclear magnetic resonance.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods
  • Metabolomics / methods
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive* / metabolism
  • Respiratory System / metabolism


  • Biomarkers

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.