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Keywords:

  • Biomarkers;
  • early diagnosis;
  • metabolites;
  • metabolomics;
  • obesity

Summary

Obesity, the prevalence of which is increasing rapidly worldwide, is recognized as a risk factor for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, liver disease and renal disease. Unfortunately, the mechanisms underlying it have not been well characterized. Fortunately, metabolomics – the systematic study of metabolites, which are small molecules generated by the process of metabolism – has been important in elucidating the pathways underlying obesity. Small-molecule metabolites have an important role in biological system and represent attractive candidates to understand obesity phenotypes. Metabolomic analysis is a valid and powerful tool with which to further define the mechanisms. Recent attention has focused on identifying biomarkers that would propose a better non-invasive way to detect or visualize obesity and prevent its events. The discovery of the biomarkers has become a key breakthrough towards a better molecular understanding of obesity. Thus, this review covers how recent metabolomic studies have advanced biomarker discovery and the elucidation of mechanisms underlying obesity and its comorbidities. The importance of identifying metabolic markers and pathways of disease-associated intermediate phenotypes is also emphasized. These biomarkers would be applicable as diagnostic tools in a personalized healthcare setting and may also open door to biomarker discovery, disease diagnosis and novel therapeutic avenues.