Student Seminar: Jennie Fan: “Glutamine: The Role of a Simple, Non-Essential Amino Acid in Newly Developed Methods of Tumor Imaging”

Graduate student Jennie Fan will present “Glutamine: The Role of a Simple, Non-Essential Amino Acid in Newly Developed Methods of Tumor Imaging” to the department.


In 1924, Otto Warburg first described the phenomena that tumor cells preferentially ran aerobic glycolysis as a source for ATP over more efficient methods like oxidative phosphorylation. Coined the Warburg Effect, his theory was consistent with experimental findings of massive glucose uptake by tumor cells. Since glycolysis Fann1114is significantly less productive than oxidative phosphorylation, tumor cells must uptake large amounts of glucose to provide enough ATP for cell growth and proliferation. This metabolic characteristic of tumor cells has been used to develop important radiotracers, like [18F]fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose (18-FDG), for tumor imaging. Since tumor cells are able to uptake significantly more of the glucose radiotracer, tumor imaging is simple and clear by Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan. Although 18-FDG is currently the industry standard radiotracer for tumor imaging, use of 18-FDG can yield both false positive and false negative results for tumor indication. Several research groups propose that glutamine is another important, essential component of tumor cell growth, and research shows that attempts at targeting glutamine metabolism of cancer cells could prove beneficial.  Recently, a new glutamine radiotracer, [18F](2S,4S)-4-(3- Fluoropropyl)glutamine, has surfaced and shows great promise as an effective, alternative tumor imaging agent. The advantages and disadvantages of targeting glucose versus glutamine metabolism for cancer imaging will be discussed.

Heiden, Matthew G. Vander, Lewis C. Cantley, and Craig B. Thompson. “Understanding The Warburg Effect: The Metabolic Requirements Of Cell Proliferation.” Science (Washington D C) 324.5930 (n.d.): 1029-1033. Biological Abstracts.

Wise, D. R.; Thompson, C. B. Glutamine addiction: a new therapeutic target in cancer. Trends Biochem. Sci. 2010, 35, 427−33.

Wu, Zehui, et al. “[(18)F](2S,4S)-4-(3-Fluoropropyl)Glutamine As A Tumor Imaging Agent.” Molecular Pharmaceutics 11.11 (2014): 3852-3866