Could metabolomics drive the fate of COVID-19 pandemic? A narrative review on lights and shadows.
Clinical chemistry and laboratory medicine. 2021;(12):1891-1905
Human Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome CoronaVirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection activates a complex interaction host/virus, leading to the reprogramming of the host metabolism aimed at the energy supply for viral replication. Alterations of the host metabolic homeostasis strongly influence the immune response to SARS-CoV-2, forming the basis of a wide range of outcomes, from the asymptomatic infection to the onset of COVID-19 and up to life-threatening acute respiratory distress syndrome, vascular dysfunction, multiple organ failure, and death. Deciphering the molecular mechanisms associated with the individual susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 infection calls for a system biology approach; this strategy can address multiple goals, including which patients will respond effectively to the therapeutic treatment. The power of metabolomics lies in the ability to recognize endogenous and exogenous metabolites within a biological sample, measuring their concentration, and identifying perturbations of biochemical pathways associated with qualitative and quantitative metabolic changes. Over the last year, a limited number of metabolomics- and lipidomics-based clinical studies in COVID-19 patients have been published and are discussed in this review. Remarkable alterations in the lipid and amino acid metabolism depict the molecular phenotype of subjects infected by SARS-CoV-2; notably, structural and functional data on the lipids-virus interaction may open new perspectives on targeted therapeutic interventions. Several limitations affect most metabolomics-based studies, slowing the routine application of metabolomics. However, moving metabolomics from bench to bedside cannot imply the mere determination of a given metabolite panel; rather, slotting metabolomics into clinical practice requires the conversion of metabolic patient-specific data into actionable clinical applications.