The idea of anabolism refers to a series of metabolic processes that involve the synthesis of different complex molecules through other molecules of greater simplicity. Anabolism, in this way, consists of the synthesis of certain biomolecules from molecules that, in comparison, are simpler.
The process requires reducing power and the development of endergonic type reactions. The reducing power refers to the transfer of protons and electrons that the coenzymes carry out, generating the endergonic reaction that supposes an increase in free energy so that the processes of anabolism are carried out.
Anabolism can be said to allow complex molecules to be obtained from simpler molecules in a process that requires the use of energy. Anabolism, in this way, enables the creation of proteins from amino acids and the molecules that are needed for the development of new cells.
The opposite processes of anabolism, which in turn are complementary, are called catabolism. Catabolism allows transforming biomolecules of more complexity into simpler ones.
Among the functions of anabolism, we can highlight the following three:
* increase muscle mass, one of the first to resonate upon hearing this term;
* manufacture body tissues and cellular components. In other words, it is possible to say that thanks to anabolism the growth of living beings takes place;
* store energy in organic molecules (such as triglycerides, glycogen and starch) through chemical bonds.
With regard to obtaining energy, cells do so from the environment, and for this they use three well-differentiated sources, which are the following:
* sunlight, as can be seen in photosynthesis, carried out by plants;
* other organic compounds, a resource used by heterotrophic organisms;
* inorganic compounds, as in the case of chemilithotrophic bacteria, which can be heterotrophic or autotrophic.
This leads us to the distinction between two types of anabolism: the autotroph and the heterotroph. The name autotrophic anabolism is the one that is carried out through chemosynthesis or photosynthesis; The first can only be performed by some bacteria, while photosynthesis can be observed in algae, plants, photosynthetic bacteria and cyanobacteria. Autotrophic organisms do not need others to survive; however, they are responsible for the life of heterotrophic organisms.
On the other hand, there is the concept of heterotrophic anabolism, the metabolic process by which complex molecules are formed from precursors or simple molecules. Chemical precursors are understood to be those substances necessary for the production of others; for example, ethyl alcohol is required to form vinegar, which is considered a precursor to acetic acid.
The origin of the precursors can be: the catabolism that both the autotrophic and the heterotrophic cells carry out of the reserve substances; the photosynthesis; chemosynthesis; the digestion of organic compounds, carried out by heterotrophic cells. It is important to note that anabolism is not a process of oxidation, like catabolism, but of reduction.
In heterotrophic anabolism, a first phase can be seen in which the biosynthesis of monomers takes place, and then one in which the biosynthesis of polymers occurs starting from said monomers.
They are known as anabolic or anabolic those products that increase the intensity of anabolism, promoting the development and growth. There are natural anabolics, such as vitamins, and others synthesized in laboratories, such as steroids that are anabolic androgens (used, despite their adverse effects, by athletes who want to gain muscle mass).