Difference Between Anabolism And Catabolism With Types, Examples And Importance

We explain what anabolism is and its difference between anabolism and catabolism. In addition, importance, types of anabolism and some examples.

  1. What is anabolism?

Anabolism is the phase of metabolism in which complex biochemical structures are generated from simpler substances . In other words, the body’s chemical energy is invested to compose complex biomolecules from simple ones, using reducing power. It is an opposite and complementary process of catabolism.

The name of the term comes from the Greek ana (“up”) and ballein (“throw”), since it implies the synthesis of more complex compounds from simpler ones, going “up” from the basic to the complicated. In order to do so, however, an additional energy additive (endergonic reactions) is required.

Like catabolism, it occurs inside the cells  and is driven by the action of enzymes (catalyst proteins).

  1. Differences between anabolism and catabolism

anabolism cell catabolism
Catabolism converts complex molecules into simpler molecules.

Catabolism and anabolism are complementary, albeit opposite, processes . While catabolism breaks down macromolecules into simpler forms releasing the chemical energy contained in their chemical bonds , anabolism consumes that energy released to form new bonds and new complex molecules , going in the opposite direction.

Thus, one consumes energy and the other releases it ; one goes from the basic to the complex and the other vice versa. When both catabolism and anabolism are in equilibrium, the cell remains stable. But when it is necessary to grow or reproduce, anabolism predominates in them, to manufacture the additional biochemical pieces necessary to increase in size or complexity.

  1. Importance of anabolism

anabolism examples growth
The growth of children is an example of anabolism.

Anabolism is a vital metabolic stage, not only to provide inputs to catabolism with the aim of decomposing and releasing chemical energy, but also to:

  • The storage of energy in the chemical bonds of complex molecules (such as starch from plants , or glycogen and triglycerides from animals).
  • The development of components of cells and tissues, thus allowing the increase of muscle mass and growth of the organism.
  • The manufacture of new cells to replace old ones and replace damaged tissues.
  1. Autotrophic anabolism

In autotrophic beings  (those capable of synthesizing on their own the nutrients necessary to sustain their existence) anabolism, usually, involves the transit of inorganic molecules (such as water , carbon dioxide , etc.) to organic molecules of greater complexity and biochemical utility . This process can occur in two different ways:

  • Photosynthesis . It is the metabolic process of plants and organisms endowed with chlorophyll, in which carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H2O) are consumed, to compose starch molecules (sugar). This process gets its necessary energy from sunlight .
  • Chemosynthesis This process occurs mainly in microscopic organisms such as bacteria and archaea, in whose habitat there is no usable sunlight, but other types of chemical substances in constant reaction, which are used to synthesize organic molecules from, for example, ammonia (NH3 ).
  1. Heterotrophic anabolism

heterotrophic anabolism
The anabolism of heterotrophs transforms organic matter into parts of the cells.

In heterotrophic beings (which require the consumption of organic matter from other living things to feed), anabolism differs from the autotroph in that its simple compounds are organic in nature, that is, they are the fruit of the digestion and breakdown of food . The energy required for this is obtained from the ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) produced during catabolism.

  1. Anabolism Examples

Anabolism can be exemplified in the growth phases of living beings : children who grow in weight and height, plants that throw new stems, animals that increase in size.

For an anabolic process to occur, new cells are required with which to manufacture new tissue. This is obtained by increasing the amount of biochemical material and biochemical energy available to the body. In that case, plants require sunlight, carbon dioxide in the air and water, while animals and humans need food and oxygen.

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