Metabolomic Applications in Stem Cell Research: a Review


This review describes the use of metabolomics to study stem cell (SC) characteristics and function, excluding SCs in cancer research, suited to a fully dedicated text. The interest in employing metabolomics in SC research has consistently grown and emphasis is, here, given to developments reported in the past five years. This text informs on the existing methodologies and their complementarity regarding the information provided, comprising untargeted/targeted approaches, which couple mass spectrometry or nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy with multivariate analysis (and, in some cases, pathway analysis and integration with other omics), and more specific analytical approaches, namely isotope tracing to highlight particular metabolic pathways, or in tandem microscopic strategies to pinpoint characteristics within a single cell. The bulk of this review covers the existing applications in various aspects of mesenchymal SC behavior, followed by pluripotent and neural SCs, with a few reports addressing other SC types. Some of the central ideas investigated comprise the metabolic/biological impacts of different tissue/donor sources and differentiation conditions, including the importance of considering 3D culture environments, mechanical cues and/or media enrichment to guide differentiation into specific lineages. Metabolomic analysis has considered cell endometabolomes and exometabolomes (fingerprinting and footprinting, respectively), having measured both lipid species and polar metabolites involved in a variety of metabolic pathways. This review clearly demonstrates the current enticing promise of metabolomics in significantly contributing towards a deeper knowledge on SC behavior, and the discovery of new biomarkers of SC function with potential translation to in vivo clinical practice.



subject category

Cell & Tissue Engineering; Cell Biology; Medicine, Research & Experimental


Bispo, DSC; Jesus, CSH; Marques, IMC; Romek, KM; Oliveira, MB; Mano, JF; Gil, AM

our authors


The authors acknowledge the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) for co-funding the BIOIMPLANT project (PTDC/BTM-ORG/28835/2017) through the COMPETE2020 program and European Union fund FEDER (POCI-01-0145FEDER-028835). CSHJ and KR are grateful to the same project for funding their contracts with the University of Aveiro. DSB acknowledges the Sociedade Portuguesa de Quimica and FCT for her PhD grant SFRH/BD/150655/2020. AMG acknowledges the CICECO-Aveiro Institute of Materials project, with references UIDB/50011/2020 & UIDP/50011/2020, financed by national funds through the FCT/MEC and when appropriate co-financed by FEDER under the PT2020 Partnership Agreement. The NMR spectrometer used in this work is part of the National NMR Network (PTNMR) and, partially supported by Infrastructure Project N degrees 022161 (co-financed by FEDER through COMPETE 2020, POCI and PORL and FCT through PIDDAC).

Share this project:

Related Publications

We use cookies for marketing activities and to offer you a better experience. By clicking “Accept Cookies” you agree with our cookie policy. Read about how we use cookies by clicking "Privacy and Cookie Policy".