Lactic Acid Accumulation in the Tumor Microenvironment Suppresses 18F-FDG Uptake.


Department of Radiation Oncology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California. [Email]


The process by which tumor cells take up 2-[18F]fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose (FDG) is heterogeneous and influenced by a multitude of factors. In mouse tumor grafts, the core of the tumor often presents lower FDG uptake than the periphery. Whether this pattern is caused by the intrinsic avidity of individual cells for FDG, the density of viable cells in the tumor, or the perfusion of the radiotracer remains unknown. In this study, we used radioluminescence microscopy to measure FDG uptake in single cells isolated from the core and periphery of the tumor and found that differences in FDG uptake persist on the level of single cells. Single cells from the core of 4T1 and MDA-MB-231 tumors grafts took up 26% to 84% less FDG than those from the periphery. These differences were observed in mice with large tumors (>8 mm diameter) but not in those with smaller tumors. To explain the origin of these differences, we examined the influence of three microenvironmental factors on FDG uptake. Hypoxia was ruled out as a possible explanation because its presence in the core would increase and not decrease FDG uptake. Higher cell proliferation in the periphery was consistent with higher FDG uptake, but there was no evidence of a causal relationship. Finally, lactate was higher in the core of the tumor, and it suppressed FDG uptake in a dose-dependent fashion. We therefore conclude that lactic acidosis-the combination of lactate ion buildup and acidic pH-can increase the heterogeneity of FDG uptake in MDA-MB-231 and 4T1 tumor grafts. SIGNIFICANCE: Analysis of single cells from heterogeneous tumors reveals the role played by the tumor microenvironment, lactic acidosis in particular, on the uptake by tumor cells of 18F-FDG, a PET imaging agent.