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Anabolism is the set of processes in living things that build up bodies. Biochemically, that means making larger molecules from smaller ones, and anatomically, that means increasing the size of bones, and muscles and other organs through normal growth and strengthening. One way of categorizing metabolic processes, whether at the cellular, organ or organism level is as 'anabolic' or 'catabolic', which is the opposite.

Anabolic pathways usually require energy (provided by ATP hydrolysis and reducing power (most often donated by NADPH). These pathways are involved in the enlargement, differentiation and proliferation of of cells. Examples of complex anabolic processes include growth and mineralization of bone and increase of muscle mass.

Because it is counterproductive to have anabolic and catabolic processes occurring in cells simultaneously, there are many signals that switch on anabolic processes while switching off catabolic processes and vice versa. Most of the known signals are hormones and the molecules involved in metabolism itself. Endocrinologists have traditionally classified many of the hormones as anabolic or catabolic.

Anabolic Pathways

Classic Anabolic Hormones

Newer hormones associated with the balance of the catabolic and anabolic states include