Single Cell Metabolomics: A Future Tool to Unmask Cellular Heterogeneity and Virus-Host Interaction in Context of Emerging Viral Diseases

Rajesh Kumar, Mayukh Ghosh, Sandeep Kumar, Minakshi Prasad

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Viral emergence is an unpredictable but obvious event, particularly in the era of climate change and globalization. Efficient management of viral outbreaks depends on pre-existing knowledge and alertness. The potential hotspots of viral emergence often remain neglected and the information related to them is insufficient, particularly for emerging viruses. Viral replication and transmission rely upon usurping the host metabolic machineries. So altered host metabolic pathways can be exploited for containment of these viruses. Metabolomics provides the insight for tracing out such checkpoints. Consequently introspection of metabolic alteration at virus-host interface has evolved as prime area in current virology research. Chromatographic separation followed by mass spectrometry has been used as the predominant analytical platform in bulk of the analyses followed by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and fluorescence based techniques. Although valuable information regarding viral replication and modulation of host metabolic pathways have been extracted but ambiguity often superseded the real events due to population effect over the infected cells. Exploration of cellular heterogeneity and differentiation of infected cells from the nearby healthy ones has become essential. Single cell metabolomics (SCM) emerges as necessity to explore such minute details. Mass spectrometry imaging (MSI) coupled with several soft ionization techniques such as electrospray ionization (ESI), laser ablation electrospray ionization (LAESI), matrix assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI), matrix-free laser desorption ionization (LDI) have evolved as the best suited platforms for SCM analyses. The potential of SCM has already been exploited to resolve several biological conundrums. Thus SCM is knocking at the door of virus-host interface.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1152
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
StatePublished - 3 Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright © 2020 Kumar, Ghosh, Kumar and Prasad.


  • emerging viruses
  • imaging
  • mass spectrometry
  • single cell metabolomics
  • virus-host interaction


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