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Keywords:

  • aging;
  • metabolomics;
  • metabonomics;
  • mass spectrometry;
  • cancer;
  • age-related macular degeneration;
  • atherosclerosis;
  • diabetes;
  • Alzheimer's disease

Abstract

Every 5 years or so new technologies, or new combinations of old ones, seemingly burst onto the science scene and are then sought after until they reach the point of becoming commonplace. Advances in mass spectrometry instrumentation, coupled with the establishment of standardized chemical fragmentation libraries, increased computing power, novel data-analysis algorithms, new scientific applications, and commercial prospects have made mass spectrometry-based metabolomics the latest sought-after technology. This methodology affords the ability to dynamically catalogue and quantify, in parallel, femtomole quantities of cellular metabolites. The study of aging, and the diseases that accompany it, has accelerated significantly in the last decade. Mutant genes that alter the rate of aging have been found that increase lifespan by up to 10-fold in some model organisms, and substantial progress has been made in understanding fundamental alterations that occur at both the mRNA and protein level in tissues of aging organisms. The application of metabolomics to aging research is still relatively new, but has already added significant insight into the aging process. In this review we summarize these findings. We have targeted our manuscript to two audiences: mass spectrometrists interested in applying their technical knowledge to unanswered questions in the aging field, and gerontologists interested in expanding their knowledge of both mass spectrometry and the most recent advances in aging-related metabolomics. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc., Mass Spec Rev 31:70–95, 2012