Intracellular coenzymes as natural biomarkers for metabolic activities and mitochondrial anomalies

Ahmed A. Heikal

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

247 Scopus citations


Mitochondria play a pivotal role in energy metabolism, programmed cell death and oxidative stress. Mutated mitochondrial DNA in diseased cells compromises the structure of key enzyme complexes and, therefore, mitochondrial function, which leads to a myriad of health-related conditions such as cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, diabetes and aging. Early detection of mitochondrial and metabolic anomalies is an essential step towards effective diagnoses and therapeutic intervention. Reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) and flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD) play important roles in a wide range of cellular oxidation-reduction reactions. Importantly, NADH and FAD are naturally fluorescent, which allows noninvasive imaging of metabolic activities of living cells and tissues. Furthermore, NADH and FAD autofluorescence, which can be excited using distinct wavelengths for complementary imaging methods and is sensitive to protein binding and local environment. This article highlights recent developments concerning intracellular NADH and FAD as potential biomarkers for metabolic and mitochondrial activities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-263
Number of pages23
JournalBiomarkers in Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2010


  • Energy metabolism
  • Flavin
  • Flavin adenine dinucleotide
  • Mitochondria
  • Mitochondrial anomalies
  • Reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide


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