Clinical studies for improving radiotherapy with 2-deoxy-D-glucose: present status and future prospects

J Cancer Res Ther. 2009 Sep;5 Suppl 1:S21-6. doi: 10.4103/0973-1482.55136.


Higher rates of glucose usage generally correlate with poor prognosis in several types of malignant tumours. Experimental studies (both in vitro and in vivo) have shown that 2-deoxy-D-glucose (2-DG), a glucose analog and glycolytic inhibitor, enhances radiation-induced damage selectively in tumor cells while protecting normal cells, thereby suggesting that 2-DG can be used as a differential radiomodifier to improve the efficacy of radiotherapy. Clinical trials undertaken to study the feasibility, safety, and validity of this suggested approach will be described. Based on 2-DG-induced radiosensitization observed in primary organ cultures of cerebral glioma tissues, clinical trials were designed taking into consideration the radiobiology of gliomas and pharmacokinetics of 2-DG. Phase I/II clinical trials have unequivocally demonstrated that a combination of 2-DG (200-300 mg 2-DG per kg body weight orally administered after overnight fasting, 20 min before irradiation) with large weekly fractions (5 Gy/fraction) of low-LET radiotherapy is well tolerated without any acute toxicity or late radiation damage to the normal brain tissue. Nonserious transient side effects similar to hypoglycemia induced disturbances like restlessness, nausea, and vomiting were observed at the 2-DG doses used. Data from these trials involving more than 100 patients have clearly indicated a moderate increase in the survival, with a significant improvement in the quality of life with clinicopathological evidence of protection of normal brain tissue. A phase III multicentric trial to evaluate the efficacy of the combined treatment is in progress. Directions for future studies are discussed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Brain Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Deoxyglucose / therapeutic use*
  • Glioblastoma / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Radiation-Sensitizing Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Radiotherapy*


  • Radiation-Sensitizing Agents
  • Deoxyglucose