Basic principles of metabolic modeling of NMR (13)C isotopic turnover to determine rates of brain metabolism in vivo

Metab Eng. 2004 Jan;6(1):75-84. doi: 10.1016/j.ymben.2003.10.003.


Metabolic modeling is a necessary part of the analysis of isotopic labeling data that is being obtained in the brain and other organs. Here are explained the basic principles of metabolic modeling of isotopic labeling studies, particularly with regard to (13)C isotopic measurements performed in vivo. The basic elements needed to simulate isotopic flows are described, and how to combine them to perform modeling analyses is explained. Procedures to introduce and evaluate model constraints and simplifications are discussed. The basic principle of isotopomer analysis is explained, as are mechanics of least-squares fitting of simulations to data. Closely related to the fitting is the effect of data scatter, which is discussed in the context of the non-normal distributions of uncertainty that are often seen with (13)C labeling measurements in vivo. This article is meant to provide a general background for investigators to begin to apply metabolic modeling analysis to (13)C isotopic labeling studies performed in vivo.

MeSH terms

  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Carbon Isotopes / metabolism
  • Citric Acid Cycle / physiology*
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Glycolysis / physiology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Mathematics
  • Models, Biological*


  • Carbon Isotopes