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Tissue Eng. 1999 Aug;5(4):347-68.

Metabolic flux analysis: a powerful tool for monitoring tissue function.

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  • 1Center for Engineering in Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and Shriners Hospital for Children, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.


In recent years, metabolic flux analysis has been widely used in bioprocess engineering to monitor cell viability and improve strain activity. Metabolic flux analysis refers to a methodology for investigating cellular metabolism whereby intracellular fluxes are calculated using a stoichiometric model for the major intracellular reactions and applying mass balances around intracellular metabolites. A powerful feature of this methodology is its ability to consider cellular biochemistry in terms of reaction networks. By considering the stoichiometry of biochemical reactions, it is possible to estimate the degree of engagement of each pathway participating in overall cellular activity, and hence obtain a comprehensive view of a cell s metabolic state. Given the potential impact of cellular energy metabolism on the function of engineered tissues, such comprehensive analysis of metabolic activity can be an extremely useful tool for tissue engineers. Estimates of intracellular fluxes under various environmental conditions could be used to optimize function in vivo as well as culture conditions in vitro. In this review, we provide a brief theoretical background of metabolic flux analysis and summarize the most widely used experimental approaches to obtain flux data. This review is intended as an overview of the field and as a starting point for tissue engineers wishing to learn about and eventually employ this methodology.

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