Metabolic regulation of stem cell function

J Intern Med. 2014 Jul;276(1):12-24. doi: 10.1111/joim.12247.


Stem cell function is regulated by intrinsic mechanisms, such as transcriptional and epigenetic regulators, as well as extrinsic mechanisms, such as short-range signals from the niche and long-range humoral signals. Interactions between these regulatory mechanisms and cellular metabolism are just beginning to be identified. In multiple systems, differentiation is accompanied by changes in glycolysis, oxidative phosphorylation and the levels of reactive oxygen species. Indeed, metabolic pathways regulate proliferation and differentiation by regulating energy production and the generation of substrates for biosynthetic pathways. Some metabolic pathways appear to function differently in stem cells as compared with restricted progenitors and differentiated cells. They also appear to influence stem cell function by regulating signal transduction, epigenetic marks and oxidative stress. Studies to date illustrate the importance of metabolism in the regulation of stem cell function and suggest complex cross-regulation likely exists between metabolism and other stem cell regulatory mechanisms.

Keywords: differentiation; metabolism; self-renewal; stem cell.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chromatin / metabolism
  • Enzymes / metabolism
  • Glycolysis / physiology
  • Humans
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena / physiology
  • Oxidative Phosphorylation
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Stem Cells / physiology*


  • Chromatin
  • Enzymes
  • Reactive Oxygen Species