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Clin Cancer Res. 2009 May 15;15(10):3442-50. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-08-3291. Epub 2009 Apr 28.

Abnormalities in glucose uptake and metabolism in imatinib-resistant human BCR-ABL-positive cells.

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Department of Anesthesiology, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, CO, USA.


The development of imatinib resistance has become a significant therapeutic problem in which the etiology seems to be multifactorial and poorly understood. As of today, clinical criteria to predict the development of imatinib resistance in chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), other than rebound of the myeloproliferation, are under development. However, there is evidence that the control of glucose-substrate flux is an important mechanism of the antiproliferative action of imatinib because imatinib-resistant gastrointestinal stromal KIT-positive tumors reveal highly elevated glucose uptake in radiologic images. We used nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and gas chromatography mass spectrometry to assess (13)C glucose uptake and metabolism (glycolysis, TCA cycle, and nucleic acid ribose synthesis) during imatinib treatment in CML cell lines with different sensitivities to imatinib. Our results show that sensitive K562-s and LAMA84-s BCR-ABL-positive cells have decreased glucose uptake, decreased lactate production, and an improved oxidative TCA cycle following imatinib treatment. The resistant K562-r and LAMA84-r cells maintained a highly glycolytic metabolic phenotype with elevated glucose uptake and lactate production. In addition, oxidative synthesis of RNA ribose from (13)C-glucose via glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase was decreased, and RNA synthesis via the nonoxidative transketolase pathway was increased in imatinib-resistant cells. CML cells which exhibited a (oxidative/nonoxidative) flux ratio for nucleic acid ribose synthesis of >1 were sensitive to imatinib. The resistant K562-r and LAMA84-r exhibited a (oxidative/nonoxidative) flux ratio of <0.7. The changes in glucose uptake and metabolism were accompanied by intracellular translocation of GLUT-1 from the plasma membrane into the intracellular fraction in sensitive cells treated with imatinib, whereas GLUT-1 remained located at the plasma membrane in LAMA84-r and K562-r cells. The total protein load of GLUT-1 was unchanged among treated sensitive and resistant cell lines. In summary, elevated glucose uptake and nonoxidative glycolytic metabolic phenotype can be used as sensitive markers for early detection of imatinib resistance in BCR-ABL-positive cells.

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