Analyzing metabolomics-based challenge tests

Daniel J. Vis*, Johan A. Westerhuis, Doris M. Jacobs, John P.M. van Duynhoven, Suzan Wopereis, Ben van Ommen, Margriet M.W.B. Hendriks, Age K. Smilde

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


Challenge tests are used to assess the resilience of human beings to perturbations by analyzing responses to detect functional abnormalities. Well known examples are allergy tests and glucose tolerance tests. Increasingly, metabolomics analysis of blood or serum samples is used to analyze the biological response of the individual to these challenges. The information content of such metabolomics challenge test data involves both the disturbance and restoration of homeostasis on a metabolic level and is thus inherently different from the analysis of steady state data. It opens doors to study the variation of resilience between individuals beyond the classical biomarkers; preferably in terms of underlying biological processes. We review challenge tests in which metabolomics was used to analyze the biological response. Specifically, we describe strategies to perform statistical analyses on the responses and we will show some examples of these strategies applied to a postprandial challenge that was used to study a diet with anti-inflammatory properties. Finally we discuss open issues and give recommendation for further research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-63
Number of pages14
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Challenge tests
  • Perturbation
  • Redefining health
  • Review
  • Statistical analysis


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