Background: Stable Isotope Resolved Metabolomics (SIRM) is a new biological approach that uses stable isotope tracers such as uniformly 13C-enriched glucose (13C6-Glc) to trace metabolic pathways or networks at the atomic level in complex biological systems. Non-steady-state kinetic modeling based on SIRM data uses sets of simultaneous ordinary differential equations (ODEs) to quantitatively characterize the dynamic behavior of metabolic networks. It has been increasingly used to understand the regulation of normal metabolism and dysregulation in the development of diseases. However, fitting a kinetic model is challenging because there are usually multiple sets of parameter values that fit the data equally well, especially for large-scale kinetic models. In addition, there is a lack of statistically rigorous methods to compare kinetic model parameters between different experimental groups. Results: We propose a new Bayesian statistical framework to enhance parameter estimation and hypothesis testing for non-steady-state kinetic modeling of SIRM data. For estimating kinetic model parameters, we leverage the prior distribution not only to allow incorporation of experts’ knowledge but also to provide robust parameter estimation. We also introduce a shrinkage approach for borrowing information across the ensemble of metabolites to stably estimate the variance of an individual isotopomer. In addition, we use a component-wise adaptive Metropolis algorithm with delayed rejection to perform efficient Monte Carlo sampling of the posterior distribution over high-dimensional parameter space. For comparing kinetic model parameters between experimental groups, we propose a new reparameterization method that converts the complex hypothesis testing problem into a more tractable parameter estimation problem. We also propose an inference procedure based on credible interval and credible value. Our method is freely available for academic use at https://github.com/xuzhang0131/MCMCFlux. Conclusions: Our new Bayesian framework provides robust estimation of kinetic model parameters and enables rigorous comparison of model parameters between experimental groups. Simulation studies and application to a lung cancer study demonstrate that our framework performs well for non-steady-state kinetic modeling of SIRM data.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108
JournalBMC Bioinformatics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by National Institutes of Health [1R03CA211835, 5P20GM103436-15, 1P01CA163223-01A1], the Biostatistics and Bioinformatics and Redox Metabolism Shared Resource Facilities of the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center [P30CA177558] and University of Kentucky Center for Cancer and Metabolism [1P20GM121327-01].

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s).


  • Bayesian method
  • Kinetic modeling
  • SIRM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics


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