Altered glucose metabolism in childhood pre-B acute lymphoblastic leukaemia

Leukemia. 2006 Oct;20(10):1731-7. doi: 10.1038/sj.leu.2404365. Epub 2006 Aug 31.


The cells of solid tumours are known to have an altered metabolism, with high rates of glucose uptake and glycolysis, which results in the excessive production of lactate. To date there has been no definitive research documenting metabolic changes in acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) cells. In order to investigate whether ALL cells have an altered metabolism, we initially compared the transcriptional profiles of 22 specimens from paediatric patients diagnosed with ALL to five CD34+ specimens isolated from bone marrow, which was verified in an independent cohort of 101 specimens. Profiling revealed the upregulation of genes facilitating glycolysis in the ALL specimens compared to the CD34+ specimens, while those involved in the tricarboxylic acid cycle were downregulated. Functional studies supported the microarray findings threefold: (1) higher expression of the glucose transport protein glucose transporter 1 in ALL compared to CD34+ specimens, (2) the excessive production of lactate in ALL cell lines and (3) sensitivity of ALL cell lines to the glycolysis inhibitor 2-deoxy-D-glucose. While metabolic alterations have been well documented in solid tumours, this is the first study to provide direct evidence for the existence of metabolic changes in the leukaemic cells of ALL patients. The finding offers new options for targeted therapy for ALL patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, CD34 / metabolism
  • B-Lymphocytes / metabolism*
  • B-Lymphocytes / pathology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Child
  • Citric Acid Cycle / genetics
  • Deoxyglucose / pharmacokinetics
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Leukemic
  • Glucose / pharmacokinetics*
  • Glucose Transporter Type 1 / genetics
  • Glucose Transporter Type 1 / metabolism
  • Glycolysis / genetics
  • Humans
  • Lactic Acid / metabolism
  • Precursor B-Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / genetics
  • Precursor B-Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / metabolism*
  • Precursor B-Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / physiopathology
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / genetics
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / metabolism*
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / physiopathology
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Up-Regulation


  • Antigens, CD34
  • Glucose Transporter Type 1
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Lactic Acid
  • Deoxyglucose
  • Glucose