Liver Disease

Assess Liver Health In Vivo

The liver is the single most important regulator of metabolic homeostasis at the organismal level in vertebrates and performs multiple crucial biological functions including detoxification of xenobiotics, protein metabolism, degradation of waste products, vitamin storage, and bile acid production. Metabolomics is an indispensable tool for capturing an integrative profile of an individual’s liver function. As the incidence of certain liver diseases, such as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) continue to rise, researchers and healthcare providers can look to Metabolon to provide much-needed diagnostic and prognostic indicators to better understand the molecular mechanisms underpinning pathological processes. As the world leader in both metabolomics and lipidomics services, Metabolon is uniquely positioned to capture liver disease phenotypes through the broadest possible lens.

Approach the Disease Holistically

As there are no FDA-approved therapies specifically for NASH, diet and exercise are the main treatments. The lack of a clear disease taxonomy and deep mechanistic understanding of the disease is a major hindrance to drug development. Metabolon’s ability to non-invasively screen for thousands of metabolites in just one biological sample makes it an ideal solution for assessing the metabolic state. The metabolome integrates an individual’s genetic makeup, gene expression profile, and even nongenetic factors such as diet, environmental exposures, and the microbiome, making it the definitive representation of the phenotype. Therefore, layering metabolomic analysis onto genomic and transcriptomic data provides the best opportunity to understand disease.

Clarify Clinical Potential and Biomarker Strategy

Global untargeted metabolomics enables researchers to discover key changes or differences between conditions such as disease stages or drug treatments. This approach has the potential to produce not only fundamental insights into disease mechanisms, but also actionable biomarkers that can be used to track disease severity and therapeutic efficacy.

Build Future Diagnostics and Targets

NASH is a complex disease encompassing a complex amalgam of dysregulated pathways. A narrow focus on individual markers such as lipids or liver enzymes may not be enough to fully understand and discover therapeutic targets. Leveraging global metabolomics as a wide-angle tool can support the development of diagnostics and therapeutics that have the capability to improve patients’ lives.

See how Metabolon can advance your path to preclinical and clinical insights

Metabolomics Panels for Liver Disease Applications

Amino Acids Targeted Panel

Amino acids (AA) are the foundational building blocks for peptides and proteins. These small molecules regulate metabolic pathways that are involved in cell maintenance, growth, reproduction, and immunity. Branched chain amino acids play a large role in building muscle tissue and participate in increasing protein synthesis. Amino acids also play a role in cell signaling, gene expression and protein phosphorylation. Maintaining an optimal balance of amino acids is vital to maintaining a stable equilibrium of physiological processes.
Amino Acids Targeted Panel
Bile Acids Targeted Panel

Bile Acids Targeted Panel

Bile acids are derived from cholesterol and serve an important role in emulsifying and digesting lipids. In addition, their metabolism is intimately involved with the microbiota, and they have been shown to exhibit endocrine and metabolic activity via receptors like FXR and TGR5. The Bile Acids Targeted Panel measures all the major human and rodent primary and secondary bile acids as well as their glycine and taurine conjugates.

C4 Single Analyte Assay

7-α-hydroxy-4-cholesten-3-one (C4) is an intermediate in the biosynthesis of bile acids from cholesterol. The precursor to C4 is 7α-hydroxycholesterol which is produced from cholesterol via the hepatic enzyme, 7α-hydroxylase. 7-α-hydroxylase catalyzes the rate-limiting step in bile acid synthesis and its activity is tightly regulated via the FXR receptor. Measurement of the stable metabolite C4, a product of the next oxidative enzymatic reaction after 7-α-hydroxylase, is reflective of hepatic de-novo bile acid synthesis and FXR receptor activation. Bile acid malabsorption is associated with a variety of gastrointestinal pathologies (eg, irritable bowel syndrome, ileal disease) and is characterized by elevated serum C4 levels.
C4 Single Analyte Assay
Central Carbons Targeted Panel

Central Carbons Targeted Panel

Central carbon metabolism involves the enzymatic conversion of sugars into metabolic precursors that are used to generate the entire biomass of the cell. The metabolites in this panel include key citric acid cycle compounds that connect carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism. In addition to supplying key metabolic precursors, central carbon metabolism is used to oxidize simple sugar molecules obtained from food to supply energy to living systems. Measurement of central carbon metabolites has great industrial relevance since it may allow the engineering of selected metabolic steps to optimize carbon flow toward precursors for industrially important metabolites.

Free Fatty Acids Targeted Panel

Fatty acids play many physiologically important roles in an organism. They are not only key metabolites of energy storage and production but also the basic building blocks of complex lipids that form cellular membranes. A variety of bioactive forms of fatty acid metabolites, known as lipid mediators, act as local hormones and are involved in many physiological systems and pathological processes. Free fatty acids (FFA, non-esterified fatty acids, NEFA) are the nonbound fraction of the total fatty acid pool. The determination of FFAs in plasma (or serum) is of clinical relevance as the association between FFAs and many diseases is well-known (eg, insulin resistance/type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease).
Free Fatty Acids Targeted Panel
Salivary Glucose Single Analyte Assay

Salivary Glucose Single Analyte Assay

Daily monitoring of glucose levels is an essential part of managing diabetes. However, blood glucose testing usually involves finger pricks, an invasive procedure that is troublesome to some patients. Therefore, increasing efforts have been made to develop a non-invasive method by self-testing salivary glucose levels, which are two orders of magnitude lower than those in blood.

Insulin Resistance Targeted Panel

Insulin resistance is a critical pathophysiological state underlying several chronic conditions, including type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease (CVD), hypertension, and polycystic ovarian syndrome. Insulin resistance is evident when glucose builds up in the blood stream instead of being absorbed by the body’s cells. It is a result of a diminished response to the hormone insulin at the whole body, organ, or cellular level.

A panel of biomarkers comprised of a small organic acid (α-hydroxybutyric acid (AHB)), 2 lipids (oleic acid and linoleoylglycero-phosphocholine (LGPC)) and insulin identifies insulin resistance with a single fasting blood sample and may have value as an early indicator of risk for the development of prediabetes and type-2 diabetes.

Insulin Resistance Targeted Panel

Metabolon in Action

Less Invasive Diagnostic Tools for NASH

A leading research-based biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery, development, and commercialization of innovative medicines discovers less invasive diagnostic tools for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).

Read the case study

Hepatitis B Virus Infection Dysregulates Lipid Biosynthesis Pathways

The results from this study demonstrate how global metabolomics can be employed to identify metabolic targets that play a role in chronic HBV infection and potentially other hepatic or viral diseases.

Read the case study

Early Screening for Urea Cycle Disorders (UCDs) in Plasma

In this study, metabolomic analysis of plasma identified several new potential biomarkers of UCDs. In addition to utility in helping in the screening for UCDs, this study suggests that untargeted metabolomics of plasma samples may be beneficial for monitoring the efficacy of medical treatment. Expanding newborn screening (NBS) for UCDs and shortening the turnout time are imperative in improving the sensitivity and specificity for screening these disorders.

Read the case study

Interested in Further Studies?

Why Metabolon?

Once you see the full value of metabolomics, the only remaining question is who does it best? While many laboratories have metabolite profiling or analytical chemistry capabilities, comprehensive metabolomics technologies are extremely rare. Accurate, unbiased metabolite identification across the entire metabolome introduces signal-to-noise challenges that very few labs are equipped to handle. Also, translating massive quantities of data into actionable information is slow, if not impossible, for most because proper interpretation takes two things that are in short supply: experience and a comprehensive database.

Only Metabolon has all four core metabolomics capabilities



Ability to interrogate thousands of metabolites across diverse biochemical space, revealing new insights and opportunities



Ability to integrate the data from different studies into the same dataset, in different geographies, among different patients over time



Ability to inform on proper study design, generate high‐quality data, derive biological insights, and make actionable recommendations



Ability to process hundreds of thousands of samples quickly and cost‐efficiently to service rapidly growing demand

Partner with Metabolon to access:


A library of 5,400+ known metabolites, 2,000 in human plasma, all referenced in the context of biochemical pathways

  • That’s 5x the metabolites of the closest competitor

Unparalleled depth and breadth of experience analyzing and interpreting metabolomic data to find meaningful results

  • 10,000+ projects with hundreds of clients
  • 2,000+ publications covering 500 diseases, including numerous peer-reviewed journals such as Cell, Nature and Science
  • Nearly 40 PhDs in data science, molecular biology, and biochemistry

Using our robust platform and visualization tools, our experts are uniquely able to tell you more about your molecule and develop assay panels to help you zero in on the results you need.

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Request a quote for our services, get more information on sample types and handling procedures, request a letter of support, or submit a question about how metabolomics can advance your research.

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