Metabolite concentrations in cellular systems are very much dependent on the physiological, environmental, and genetic status of an organism and are regarded as the ultimate result of cellular regulation, resulting in the visible phenotypes. Therefore, the comprehensive analysis of metabolite levels and fluxes renders a suitable tool for assessing the degree of perturbation in biological systems. Lessons derived from development of other OMICS areas (genomics, proteomics, and transcriptomics) have shown that large-scale comparisons and interpretations will require the re-use of data over long periods of time and by multiple laboratories with different expertise and backgrounds. Reaching this goal will require standardization of reporting structures of metabolomic studies for journal publication purposes, for regulatory deposition, and for database dissemination. An initiative by the Metabolomics Society is presented that aims to define important aspects of metabolomic workflows. These include biological study designs, chemical analysis, and data processing, as well as the ontologies that are necessary in this framework.
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