Glucose transporters and FDG uptake in untreated primary human non- small cell lung cancer

Raya S. Brown, Jennifer Y. Leung, Paul V. Kison, Kenneth R. Zasadny, Andrew Flint, Richard L. Wahl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

207 Scopus citations


PET imaging of malignant tumors with 2-[fluorine-18]-fluoro-2-deoxy-D- glucose (FDG) as a tracer is a noninvasive diagnostic and prognostic tool that measures tumor metabolism. In this study, we assessed the relationships between FDG uptake and the expression of facilitative glucose transporters, the sizes of populations of proliferating cells and infiltrating macrophages in patients with primary non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC). Methods: FDG uptake and the expression of five glucose transporters and the proportions of proliferating cell and macrophage populations were studied in paraffin sections from untreated primary lung cancers by immunohistochemistry. The patients were imaged with FDG PET before surgery. Results: All tumors could be detected by FDG PET. Uptake was correlated with tumor size (P = 0.004). FDG uptake was lower in adenocarcinemas (ACs) than in squamous cell carcinomas (SQCs) (P = 0.03) or large cell carcinomas (P = 0.002) [standardized uptake value corrected for lean body mass (SUL) = 5.42 ± 2.77, 8.04 ± 3.25 and 10.42 ± 4.54, respectively]. Glut-1 expression was significantly higher than that of any other transporter. All tumors tested (n = 23) were Glut-1-positive (70.8% ± 26.1% of tumor cell area was positive and staining intensity was 2.8 ± 1.2). Glut-1 expression was higher in SQCs (78% ± 17.8% and 3.5 ± 0.6) than in ACs (47.5% ± 30.3% and 1.6 ± 1.1; P = 0.044 for positive tumor cell area and P = 0.005 for staining intensity). Proliferating cells constituted 15.3% ± 13.1% of the cancer cells, and the average number of macrophages was 7.8% ± 6.3%; neither correlated with FDG uptake. Conclusion: In this population of patients with NSCLC, Glut-1 is the major glucose transporter expressed. Both FDG uptake and Glut-1 expression appear to be associated with tumor size. No association was found between FDG uptake and either macrophage or proliferative cell populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)556-565
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Nuclear Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • FDG uptake
  • Glucose transporters
  • Human lung cancer
  • Immunohistochemistry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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