Lactate-an integrative mirror of cancer metabolism

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The technique of induced metabolic bioluminescence imaging (imBI) has been developed to obtain a "snapshot" of the momentary metabolic status of biological tissues. Using cryosections of snap-frozen tissue specimens, imBI combines highly specific and sensitive in situ detection of metabolites with a spatial resolution on a microscopic level and with metabolic imaging in relation to tissue histology. Here, we present the application of imBI in human colorectal cancer. Comparing the metabolic information of one biopsy with that of 2 or 3 biopsies per individual cancer, the classification into high versus low lactate tumors, reflecting different glycolytic activities, based on a single biopsy was in agreement with the result from multiple biopsies in 83 % of all cases. We further demonstrate that the metabolic status of tumor tissue can be preserved at least over 10 years by storage in liquid nitrogen, but not by storage at -80 °C. This means that tissue banking with long-term preservation of the metabolic status is possible at -180 °C, which may be relevant for studies on long-term survival of cancer patients. As with other tumor entities, tissue lactate concentration was shown to be correlated with tumor development and progression in colorectal cancer. At first-time diagnosis, lactate values were low in rectal normal tissue and adenomas, were significantly elevated to intermediate levels in non-metastatic adenocarcinomas, and were very high in carcinomas with distant metastasis. There was an inverse behavior of tissue glucose concentration under corresponding conditions. The expression level of monocarboxylate transporter-4 (MCT4) was positively correlated with the tumor lactate concentration and may thus contribute to high lactate tumors being associated with a high degree of malignancy.




Walenta, S., Voelxen, N. F., & Mueller-Klieser, W. (2016). Lactate-an integrative mirror of cancer metabolism. In Recent Results in Cancer Research (Vol. 207, pp. 23–37). Springer New York LLC.

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