Review Volume 16, Issue 8 pp 7487—7504

HCMMD: systematic evaluation of metabolites in body fluids as liquid biopsy biomarker for human cancers

Xun Dong1, *, , Yaoyao Qu1, *, , Tongtong Sheng2, *, , Yuanming Fan1, , Silu Chen2, , Qinbo Yuan3, , Gaoxiang Ma1,4,5, , Yuqiu Ge6, ,

  • 1 State Key Laboratory of Natural Medicines, School of Traditional Chinese Pharmacy, China Pharmaceutical University, Nanjing, China
  • 2 School of Public Health, Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing, China
  • 3 Department of Urology, Wuxi Fifth People’s Hospital, Wuxi, China
  • 4 The Clinical Metabolomics Center, China Pharmaceutical University, Nanjing, China
  • 5 Deparment of Oncology, Pukou Hospital of Chinese Medicine affiliated to China Pharmaceutical University, Nanjing, China
  • 6 Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Wuxi School of Medicine, Jiangnan University, Wuxi, China
* Equal contribution

Received: October 27, 2023       Accepted: January 3, 2024       Published: April 26, 2024
How to Cite

Copyright: © 2024 Dong et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


Metabolomics is a rapidly expanding field in systems biology used to measure alterations of metabolites and identify metabolic biomarkers in response to disease processes. The discovery of metabolic biomarkers can improve early diagnosis, prognostic prediction, and therapeutic intervention for cancers. However, there are currently no databases that provide a comprehensive evaluation of the relationship between metabolites and cancer processes. In this review, we summarize reported metabolites in body fluids across pan-cancers and characterize their clinical applications in liquid biopsy. We conducted a search for metabolic biomarkers using the keywords (“metabolomics” OR “metabolite”) AND “cancer” in PubMed. Of the 22,254 articles retrieved, 792 were deemed potentially relevant for further review. Ultimately, we included data from 573,300 samples and 17,083 metabolic biomarkers. We collected information on cancer types, sample size, the human metabolome database (HMDB) ID, metabolic pathway, area under the curve (AUC), sensitivity and specificity of metabolites, sample source, detection method, and clinical features were collected. Finally, we developed a user-friendly online database, the Human Cancer Metabolic Markers Database (HCMMD), which allows users to query, browse, and download metabolite information. In conclusion, HCMMD provides an important resource to assist researchers in reviewing metabolic biomarkers for diagnosis and progression of cancers.


HMDB: human metabolome database; AUC: area under curve; HCMMD: Human Cancer Metabolic Markers Database; CEA: carcinoembryonic antigen; PSA: prostate-specific antigen; GC-MS: gas chromatography mass spectrometry; LC-MS: liquid chromatography mass spectrometry; CE-MS: capillary electrophoresis mass spectrometry; NMR: nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy.