Global test for metabolic pathway differences between conditions

In many metabolomics applications there is a need to compare metabolite levels between different conditions, e.g., case versus control. There exist many statistical methods to perform such comparisons but only few of these explicitly take into account the fact that metabolites are connected in pathways or modules. Such a priori information on pathway structure can alleviate problems in, e.g., testing on individual metabolite level. In gene-expression analysis, Goeman's global test is used to this extent to determine whether a group of genes has a different expression pattern under changed conditions. We examined if this test can be generalized to metabolomics data. The goal is to determine if the behavior of a group of metabolites, belonging to the same pathway, is significantly related to a particular outcome of interest, e.g., case/control or environmental conditions. The results show that the global test can indeed be used in such situations. This is illustrated with extensive intracellular metabolomics data from Escherichia coli and Saccharomyces cerevisiae under different environmental conditions.

D.M. Hendrickx, H.C.J. Hoefsloot, M.M.W.B. Hendriks, A.B. Canelas, A.K. Smilde
2012; 719, 8-15
Published in: 
Analytica Chimica Acta
Date of publication: 
March, 2012
Status of the publication: