The review is devoted to metabolomics, a new and rapidly growing area directed to the comprehensive analysis of metabolites of biological objects. Metabolites are characterized by various physical and chemical properties, traditionally studied by methods of analytical chemistry focused on certain groups of chemical substances. However current progress of mass spectrometry has led to the formation of unified methods, such as metabolic fingerprinting and metabolomic profiling, which allow defining thousands of metabolites in one probe. The current review describes basic characteristics of these methods, ways of metabolite separation, and the analysis of metabolites by mass spectrometry. The examples shown in this review, allow to estimate these methods and to compare their advantages and disadvantages. Besides that, authors show the methods most frequently used in metabolomics for data processing and the required resources, such as software for mass spectra processing and metabolite search database. In the conclusion, general suggestions for successful metabolomic experiments are given.
Keywords: metabolomics, metabolic fingerprinting, metabolic profiling, mass spectrometry