Heterogeneity in 2-deoxy-D-glucose-induced modifications in energetics and radiation responses of human tumor cell lines

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2001 Jul 15;50(4):1051-61. doi: 10.1016/s0360-3016(01)01534-6.


Purpose: The glucose analog and glycolytic inhibitor, 2-deoxy-D-glucose (2-DG), has been shown to differentially enhance the radiation damage in tumor cells by inhibiting the postirradiation repair processes. The present study was undertaken to examine the relationship between 2-DG-induced modification of energy metabolism and cellular radioresponses and to identify the most relevant parameter(s) for predicting the tumor response to the combined treatment of radiation + 2-DG.

Methods and materials: Six human tumor cell lines (glioma: BMG-1 and U-87, squamous cell carcinoma: 4451 and 4197, and melanoma: MeWo and Be-11) were investigated. Cells were exposed to 2 Gy of Co-60 gamma-rays or 250 kVP X-rays and maintained under liquid-holding conditions 2-4 h to facilitate repair. 2-DG (5 mM, equimolar with glucose) that was added at the time of irradiation was present during the liquid holding. Glucose utilization, lactate production (enzymatic assays), and adenine nucleotides (high performance liquid chromatography and capillary isotachophoresis) were investigated as parameters of energy metabolism. Induction and repair of DNA damage (comet assay), cytogenetic damage (micronuclei formation), and cell death (macrocolony assay) were analyzed as parameters of radiation response.

Results: The glucose consumption and lactate production of glioma cell lines (BMG-1 and U-87) were nearly 2-fold higher than the squamous carcinoma cell lines (4197 and 4451). The ATP content varied from 3.0 to 6.5 femto moles/cell among these lines, whereas the energy charge (0.86-0.90) did not show much variation. Presence of 2-DG inhibited the rate of glucose usage and glycolysis by 30-40% in glioma cell lines and by 15-20% in squamous carcinoma lines, while ATP levels reduced by nearly 40% in all the four cell lines. ATP:ADP ratios decreased to a greater extent ( approximately 40%) in glioma cells than in squamous carcinoma 4451 and MeWo cells; in contrast, presence of 2-DG reduced ADP:AMP ratios by 3-fold in the squamous carcinoma 4451, whereas an increase was noted in the glioma cell line BMG-1. 2-DG significantly reduced the initial rates of DNA repair in all cells, resulting in an excess residual damage after 2 h of repair in BMG-1, U-87, and 4451 cell lines, whereas no significant differences could be observed in the other cell lines. Recovery from potentially lethal damage was also significantly inhibited in BMG-1 cells. 2-DG increased the radiation-induced micronuclei formation in the melanoma line (MeWo) by nearly 60%, while a moderate (25-40%) increase was observed in the glioma cell lines (BMG-1 and U-87). Presence of 2-DG during liquid holding (4 h) enhanced the radiation-induced cell death by nearly 40% in both the glioma cell lines, while significant effects were not observed in others.

Conclusions: The modifications in energetics and radiation responses by 2-DG vary considerably among different human tumor cell lines, and the relationships between energy metabolism and various radiobiologic parameters are complex in nature. The 2-DG-induced modification of radiation response does not strictly correlate with changes in the levels of ATP. However, a significant enhancement of the radiation damage by 2-DG was observed in cells with high rates of glucose usage and glycolysis, which appear to be the two most important factors determining the tumor response to the combined treatment of 2-DG + radiation therapy.

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Diphosphate / metabolism
  • Adenosine Triphosphate / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / radiotherapy
  • DNA Damage
  • DNA Repair / radiation effects
  • Deoxyglucose / pharmacology*
  • Energy Metabolism / drug effects*
  • Energy Metabolism / radiation effects
  • Glioma / metabolism
  • Glioma / radiotherapy
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lactic Acid / metabolism
  • Melanoma / metabolism
  • Melanoma / radiotherapy
  • Micronucleus Tests
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / radiotherapy
  • Radiation Dosage
  • Radiobiology
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured / metabolism
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured / radiation effects


  • Lactic Acid
  • Adenosine Diphosphate
  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • Deoxyglucose
  • Glucose