Metabolomics has been widely used for investigating the biological functions of disease expression and has the potential to discover biomarkers in circulating biofluids or tissue extracts that reflect in phenotypic changes. Metabolic profiling has advantages because of the use of unbiased techniques, including multivariate analysis, and has been applied in pharmacological studies to predict therapeutic and adverse reactions of drugs, which is called pharmacometabolomics (PMx). Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR)- and mass spectrometry (MS)-based metabolomics has contributed to the discovery of recent disease biomarkers; however, the optimal strategy for the study purpose must be selected from many established protocols, methodologies and analytical platforms. Additionally, information on molecular localization in tissue is essential for further functional analyses related to therapeutic and adverse effects of drugs in the process of drug development. MS imaging (MSI) is a promising technology that can visualize molecules on tissue surfaces without labeling and thus provide localized information. This review summarizes recent uses of MS-based global and wide-targeted metabolomics technologies and the advantages of the MSI approach for PMx and highlights the PMx technique for the biomarker discovery of adverse drug effects.
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