Wednesday 20 May 2009
Metabolites are the intermediates and products of metabolism. The term metabolite is usually restricted to small molecules.
A primary metabolite is directly involved in normal growth, development, and reproduction.
A secondary metabolite is not directly involved in those processes, but usually has an important ecological function. Examples include antibiotics and pigments.
The metabolome forms a large network of metabolic reactions, where outputs from one enzymatic chemical reaction are inputs to other chemical reactions. Such systems have been described as hypercycles.
Metabolites from pharmaceutical compounds (Drug metabolism) are formed as part of the natural process of eliminating the compounds, and profiling these metabolites is an important part of Drug Discovery to understand any undesirable side effects.