Macromolecular crowding: qualitative and semiquantitative successes, quantitative challenges

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2003 Jul 30;1649(2):127-39. doi: 10.1016/s1570-9639(03)00167-5.


The concept of excluded volume and the theory of effects of excluded volume on the equilibria and rates of macromolecular reactions in fluid media containing high total concentrations of macromolecules ('crowded' media) are summarized. Reports of experimental studies of crowding effects published during the last year are tabulated. Limitations of current excluded volume theory are discussed, and a determination is made of conditions under which this theory may and may not be validly applied. Recently suggested novel approaches to quantitative analysis of crowding phenomena, which may help to overcome some of the limitations of current theory, are summarized.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • DNA / chemistry
  • Macromolecular Substances*
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Osmotic Pressure
  • Particle Size
  • Protein Folding
  • Solutions / chemistry
  • Thermodynamics


  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Solutions
  • DNA