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Cancer Res. 2011 Nov 15;71(22):6948-56. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-11-1095. Epub 2011 Sep 26.

Metabolic signatures imaged in cancer-induced cachexia.

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JHU ICMIC Program, The Russell H. Morgan Department of Radiology and Radiological Science, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, USA.


Cancer-induced cachexia is a complex and poorly understood life-threatening syndrome that is characterized by progressive weight loss due to metabolic alterations, depletion of lipid stores, and severe loss of skeletal muscle protein. Gaining the ability to noninvasively image the presence or onset of cachexia is important to better treat this condition, to improve the design and optimization of therapeutic strategies, and to detect the responses to such treatments. In this study, we employed noninvasive magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging (MRSI) and [(18)F]fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose ((18)FDG) positron emission tomography (PET) to identify metabolic signatures typical of cachectic tumors, using this information to analyze the types and extents of metabolic changes induced by the onset of cachexia in normal tissues. Cachexia was confirmed by weight loss as well as analyses of muscle tissue and serum. In vivo, cachexia-inducing murine adenocarcinoma (MAC)16 tumors were characterized by higher total choline (tCho) and higher (18)FDG uptake than histologically similar noncachectic MAC13 tumors. A profound depletion of the lipid signal was observed in normal tissue of MAC16 tumor-bearing mice but not within the tumor tissue itself. High-resolution (1)H magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) confirmed the high tCho level observed in cachectic tumors that occurred because of an increase of free choline and phosphocholine. Higher succinate and lower creatine levels were also detected in cachectic tumors. Taken together, these findings enhance our understanding of the effect of cancer on host organs and tissues as well as promote the development of noninvasive biomarkers for the presence of cachexia and identification of new therapeutic targets.

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