Cell Metabolism Core Laboratory

Justin Cross (Core Facility Head)



The Cell Metabolism Laboratory helps investigators characterize biological systems through the direct measurement of their small molecule constituents. Our primary areas of focus are cancer cell metabolism and understanding the gut microbiome.

We use a range of complementary GC-MS and LC-MS analytical platforms and undertake projects from experimental design, through data acquisition, analysis and interpretation. We also provide access to some non-MS technologies for the measurement of cellular nutrient and oxygen consumption.


Nutrient Consumption

Our YSI 7000 enzymatic analyzer measures glucose, glutamine, and lactate levels in cell culture media and is used to determine cellular nutrient consumption rates.

Oxygen Consumption

Seahorse XFe96 and XFp Extracellular Flux Analyzers are available for the measurement of oxygen consumption and extracellular acidification.

Cell Growth and Viability

An ACEA xCELLigence MP platform can be used to monitor cellular proliferation and viability in real-time. A hypoxia chamber is available for maintaining cells at low oxygen tension.

Sample Preparation

Instrumentation and optimized protocols are available for sample disruption and metabolite extraction from cells, cell culture media, tissue, serum/plasma, urine and fecal samples. A Gerstel multipurpose prep station is used for chemical derivatizations.

Gas Chromatography–Mass Spectrometry

2 Agilent GC-MS systems with 5975 mass selective detectors are used to measure derivatized organic acids, amino acids, fatty acid methyl esters and short chain fatty acids. Methods are available for both relative and absolute quantitation, EI and CI ionization.

Liquid Chromatography–Mass Spectrometry – Targeted

Our Agilent 6230 time-of-flight (TOF) and 6545 Q-TOF LC-MS instruments are used for the relative quantitation of polar metabolites from cells, plasma and tissue extracts. Dedicated chromatography methods are used for distinct classes of metabolites. Dual Agilent 1290 high-pressure HPLC pumps allow sequential analysis by both reverse phase (RP) and aqueous normal phase (ANP) or HILIC chromatographic methods. Our Thermo Vantage triple quadrupole LC-MS system with MayLab column switcher is used for the targeted quantitation of metabolites, including Acyl CoA profiling, cyclic nucleotides and modified DNA bases such as methylcytosine and hydroxymethylcytosine.

Liquid Chromatography–Mass Spectrometry – Untargeted

Our Agilent 6550 Q-TOF is used for profiling projects in the fields of lipidomics and microbiome-related projects. We have developed strategies for untargeted data mining include recursive feature finding workflow within Agilent MassHunter software and statistical analysis within Mass Profiler Professional software. Multi-omic data analysis strategies are used to integrate data from other technologies, such as gene expression and 16S ribosomal sequencing data.

Isotope Tracing and Flux Measurements

Studies using 13C and 15N stable isotope tracing are performed on a collaborative basis.

Analytical Pharmacology

Our AB SCIEX API 4000 and Shimadzu HPLC with fluorescence and UV detection is used for the targeted quantitation small molecule pharmaceuticals. We support preclinical and phase I/II clinical trials, including drug metabolism and pharmacokinetic (DMPK) studies, drug metabolite identification and bioavailability studies.