Allometry of mammalian cellular oxygen consumption

Cell Mol Life Sci. 2001 May;58(5-6):815-22. doi: 10.1007/pl00000902.


In the 1930s, Max Kleiber and Samuel Brody established that the interspecies correlation between mammalian body mass and metabolic rate (alphaM(0.75)) cannot be explained (solely) by whole body surface area (alphaM(0.66)) to volume ratios. Metabolic considerations must also be taken into account. Decreases in the proportion of visceral organ mass to whole body mass can account for some of the whole body metabolic differences. However, superimposed upon these anatomical differences, the metabolism of tissues and cells has been demonstrated to decrease with increasing body mass. These decreases in oxygen consumption rates (with increasing body mass) in cells and tissues can be explained by a decrease in ATP turnover and mitochondrial density and an increase in mitochondrial functional efficiency (decrease in proton leak). The majority of the proton leak differences reflect differences in mitochondrial inner membrane surface area. Indeed, liver metabolism correlates directly with liver mitochondrial inner membrane surface area. Apart from being a significant contributor (approximately 25%) to basal metabolism, mitochondrial proton leak is a major factor determining the differences in basal metabolism between mammals of different body mass.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphate / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Basal Metabolism
  • Body Weight*
  • Liver / cytology
  • Liver / growth & development
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Organ Size
  • Oxidative Phosphorylation
  • Oxygen / metabolism*
  • Oxygen Consumption*
  • Protons


  • Protons
  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • Oxygen