Glycolysis and glucose transporter 1 as markers of response to hormonal therapy in breast cancer

Int J Cancer. 2003 Nov 1;107(2):177-82. doi: 10.1002/ijc.11387.


Estrogen plays a key role in the development and progression of breast cancer; hence, antiestrogens, such as tamoxifen, have a marked impact on the treatment and outcome of breast cancer patients. Estrogen-induced growth requires continuous replenishment of energy, predominantly generated by glycolysis. Previous work from this laboratory demonstrated estrogen induction and tamoxifen inhibition of glycolysis in MCF7 human breast cancer cells in vitro (Furman et al., J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol 1992;43:189-95). We present here studies of estrogen vs. tamoxifen regulation of glycolysis in orthotopic MCF7 human breast cancer xenografts in vivo. In addition we investigated mediation of this metabolic regulation through glucose transporter 1, in the same cells, in vitro, as well as in 2 other hormone-responsive human breast cancer cells. Tumor response and glycolysis were monitored noninvasively by means of magnetic resonance imaging and 13C spectroscopy, respectively. During estrogen-stimulated tumor growth (from approximately 0.5 to approximately 1.3 cm3 in 10 days), the rate of glucose metabolism through glycolysis in vivo was high at 40 +/- 4 micromole/g/min. However, treatment for 10 days with tamoxifen induced growth arrest and a concomitant decrease of 2-fold in the rate of glycolysis. In congruence, glucose transporter 1 expression was stimulated by estrogen, reaching after 72 hr a 2- to 3-fold higher level of expression relative to that in tamoxifen-treated cells. Thus, estrogen-induced changes in glycolysis appeared to be mediated via its regulation of glucose transporter 1 expression. The in vivo monitoring of glycolysis may serve as a tool to expose hormonal regulation of glucose transporter 1 expression in breast cancer tumors, as well as to assess response to hormonal therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal / therapeutic use*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Down-Regulation
  • Estrogens / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Glucose Transporter Type 1
  • Glycolysis*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Monosaccharide Transport Proteins / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms, Hormone-Dependent / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms, Hormone-Dependent / metabolism
  • Tamoxifen / therapeutic use
  • Transplantation, Heterologous
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Estrogens
  • Glucose Transporter Type 1
  • Monosaccharide Transport Proteins
  • SLC2A1 protein, human
  • Slc2a1 protein, mouse
  • Tamoxifen
  • Glucose