The common characteristics shared by metabolically active cells include rapid cell division, excessive glucose consumption and high concentrations of mitochondria. In the human body, some of the most metabolically active cells include liver cells, kidney cells, brain cells, heart cells, lung cells and skeletal muscle cells. Tumor cells, which often lead to cancer, are also metabolically active cells that result from a rapid, unregulated cellular division.
The various biochemical reactions that are essential in sustaining life are influenced by the rate at which these processes occur. However, the average cellular metabolic rates may vary relative to the body size of an individual, as proposed by a study published in the December 2006 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. The researchers collated empirical data from 18 mammalian cells, including muscle cells, liver cells and red blood cells.
Rapid cell division is closely associated with metabolically active cells that require constant replacement throughout their lifespans, based on the results of the study. This feature allows certain cells, such as the brain and muscle cells, to retain proper function. The energy that is needed to quickly undergo cellular division is provided by the high concentrations of mitochondria that are present within these cells.