Non-targeted Tracer Fate Detection

Methods Enzymol. 2015;561:277-302. doi: 10.1016/bs.mie.2015.04.003. Epub 2015 Jun 14.


Stable isotopes have been used to trace atoms through metabolism and quantify metabolic fluxes for several decades. Only recently non-targeted stable isotope labeling approaches have emerged as a powerful tool to gain insights into metabolism. However, the manual detection of isotopic enrichment for a non-targeted analysis is tedious and time consuming. To overcome this limitation, the non-targeted tracer fate detection (NTFD) algorithm for the automated metabolome-wide detection of isotopic enrichment has been developed. NTFD detects and quantifies isotopic enrichment in the form of mass isotopomer distributions (MIDs) in an automated manner, providing the means to trace functional groups, determine MIDs for metabolic flux analysis, or detect tracer-derived molecules in general. Here, we describe the algorithmic background of NTFD, discuss practical considerations for the freely available NTFD software package, and present potential applications of non-targeted stable isotope labeling analysis.

Keywords: (13)C; Carbon-13; Isotope labeling; NTFD; Non-targeted; Stable isotopes; Tracer fate.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms*
  • Animals
  • Carbon Isotopes
  • Humans
  • Isotope Labeling / methods*
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Metabolome*


  • Carbon Isotopes