We know, based on our individual experience, that metabolism differs from person to person. This can be seen in the different effects of dietary choices, medicines and other factors that each person is exposed to. A new study explains the various ways in which energy and metabolism interact, and reveals that our metabolism might be more plastic, or changeable, than previously thought.
By Victor Darley-Usmar and Sruti Shiva
We all know whether we are feeling well or sick, but being “healthy” involves a wide range of biological factors that interact in complex ways, some of which we are just beginning to understand. Athletes provide a good example of how these factors interact to produce differences in the way that energy is used, even within a small group of relatively similar (and extremely healthy) individuals. Some athletes are marathon runners and others are sprinters, and they probably wouldn’t be too happy to swap!
This principle is not just important for sports, but can provide insights into how we each respond to infections, environmental toxins and medicines. Although we know that the way we process energy, and therefore our metabolism, must reflect individual differences, until recently it has been very difficult to show this in human subjects. A new review published in the journal Biological Chemistry introduces this concept under the term bioenergetic-metabolite interactome and describes how defining our bioenergetic health at the level of individual cells can now be achieved.
This concept is based on the function of tiny “mini-organs”, or organelles, within each of our cells – mitochondria. These organelles can be thought of as the power-house of the cell because they convert nutrients and oxygen into chemical energy, which then drives our metabolisms. By taking blood samples and looking at how the mitochondria within some of these blood cells are functioning, it is possible to define how your metabolism works when you are healthy, and ultimately which treatments are likely to be effective when you are sick. The authors explain that another interesting and surprising aspect of their work was to show that the molecules we are exposed to (the exposome) can have a direct, quantitative and variable impact on our metabolisms, possibly by altering mitochondrial function.
“Despite being an emerging field, studies into the bioenergetics of metabolism can inform new and interesting ways of controlling our metabolisms as a preventative strategy for the diseases associated with healthy aging”, the authors say.
Read the original article here:
Bradford G. Hill, Sruti Shiva, Scott Ballinger, Jianhua Zhang and Victor M. Darley-Usmar: Bioenergetics and translational metabolism: implications for genetics, physiology and precision medicine, 27.07.2019.