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FEBS Lett. 2019 Oct;593(20):2817-2839. doi: 10.1002/1873-3468.13608. Epub 2019 Sep 27.

The paradox of metabolism in quiescent stem cells.

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Department of Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.
Department of Biological Chemistry, David Geffen School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA, USA.


The shift between a proliferating and a nonproliferating state is associated with significant changes in metabolic needs. Proliferating cells tend to have higher metabolic rates, and their metabolic profiles facilitate biosynthesis, as compared to those of nondividing cells of the same sort. Recent studies have elucidated specific molecules that control metabolic changes while cells shift between proliferation and quiescence. Embryonic stem cells, which are rapidly proliferating, tend to have metabolic patterns that are similar to those of nonstem cells in a proliferative state. Moreover, although adult stem cells tend to be quiescent, their metabolic profiles have been reported in multiple organs to more closely resemble those of proliferating than those of nondividing cells in some respects. The findings raise questions about whether there are metabolic profiles that are required for stemness, and whether these profiles relate to the metabolic properties that may be required for quiescence. Here, we review the literature on how metabolism changes upon commitment to proliferation and compare the proliferating and nonproliferating metabolic states of differentiated cells and embryonic and adult stem cells.


cell cycle; epigenetics; fatty acid metabolism; glutamine metabolism; glycolysis; metabolism; nucleotide metabolism; oxidative phosphorylation; quiescence; stem cells


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