Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the primary form of human adult liver malignancy, is a highly aggressive tumor with average survival rates that are currently less than 1 year following diagnosis. Most patients with HCC are diagnosed at an advanced stage, and no efficient marker exists for the prediction of prognosis and/or response(s) to therapy. We have reported previously a high level of [1-(13)C]alanine in an orthotopic HCC using single-voxel hyperpolarized [1-(13)C]pyruvate MRS. In the present study, we implemented a three-dimensional MRSI sequence to investigate this potential hallmark of cellular metabolism in rat livers bearing HCC (n = 7 buffalo rats). In addition, quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction was used to determine the mRNA levels of lactate dehydrogenase A, nicotinamide adenine (phosphate) dinucleotide dehydrogenase quinone 1 and alanine transaminase. The enzyme levels were significantly higher in tumor than in normal liver tissues within each rat, and were associated with the in vivo MRSI signal of [1-(13)C]alanine and [1-(13)C]lactate after a bolus intravenous injection of [1-(13)C]pyruvate. Histopathological analysis of these tumors confirmed the successful growth of HCC as a nodule in buffalo rat livers, revealing malignancy and hypervascular architecture. More importantly, the results demonstrated that the metabolic fate of [1-(13)C]pyruvate conversion to [1-(13)C]alanine significantly superseded that of [1-(13)C]pyruvate conversion to [1-(13)C]lactate, potentially serving as a marker of HCC tumors.
Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.