Research ArticleCancer

Glutamine-based PET imaging facilitates enhanced metabolic evaluation of gliomas in vivo

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Science Translational Medicine  11 Feb 2015:
Vol. 7, Issue 274, pp. 274ra17
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aaa1009

A PET approach to brain tumors

Positron emission tomography, or PET, is a common method of imaging tumors by detecting their uptake of a radioactively labeled tracer. Radiolabeled glucose, in particular, is often used for this type of imaging, because tumor cells are often highly dependent on glycolysis and require large amounts of glucose to maintain their metabolism. Unfortunately, this method cannot be used to image brain tumors, because regular brain cells are also highly dependent on glucose. Now, Venneti et al. have used mouse models and human patients to show that radiolabeled glutamine, which is also taken up by tumor cells, can be used to image brain tumors and distinguish them from normal brain and even from tumors that are no longer growing.