Microeconomics of metabolism
Metabolic behaviors of proliferating cells are often explained as a rational choice to optimize cellular growth rate. In contrast, microeconomics formulates consumption behaviors as optimization problems of utilities. We pushed beyond this analogy to precisely map metabolism onto the theory of consumer choice.
We thereby revealed the correspondence between and a general mechanism for mysteries in biology and economics: the Warburg effect, a seemingly-wasteful but ubiquitous phenomenon where cells favor aerobic glycolysis over more energetically-efficient respiration, and Giffen behavior, the unexpected consumer behavior where a good is demanded more as its price rises. The correspondence implies that respiration is counterintuitively stimulated when its efficiency is decreased by drug administration.
This “microeconomics of metabolism” will serve as a macroscopic phenomenology to predict the metabolic responses against environmental operations. In particular, it offers a universal relationship between the metabolic responses against drug administrations and changes in nutrient availability.