One of the most significant challenges in the comparative analysis of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) metabolome profiles is the occurrence of shifts between peaks across different spectra, for example caused by fluctuations in pH, temperature, instrument factors and ion content. Proper alignment of spectral peaks is therefore often a crucial preprocessing step prior to downstream quantitative analysis. Various alignment methods have been developed specifically for this purpose. Other methods were originally developed to align other data types (GC, LC, SELDI-MS, etc.), but can also be applied to NMR data. This review discusses the available methods, as well as related problems such as reference determination or the evaluation of alignment quality. We present a generic alignment framework that allows for comparison and classification of different alignment approaches according to their algorithmic principles, and we discuss their performance
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