Cancers develop metabolic strategies to cope with their microenvironment often characterized by hypoxia, limited nutrient bioavailability and exposure to anticancer treatments. Among these strategies, the metabolic symbiosis based on the exchange of lactate between hypoxic/glycolytic cancer cells that convert glucose to lactate and oxidative cancer cells that preferentially use lactate as an oxidative fuel optimizes the bioavailability of glucose to hypoxic cancer cells. This metabolic cooperation has been described in various human cancers and can provide resistance to anti-angiogenic therapies. It depends on the expression and activity of monocarboxylate transporters (MCTs) at the cell membrane. MCT4 is the main facilitator of lactate export by glycolytic cancer cells, and MCT1 is adapted for lactate uptake by oxidative cancer cells. While MCT1 inhibitor AZD3965 is currently tested in phase I clinical trials and other inhibitors of lactate metabolism have been developed for anticancer therapy, predicting and monitoring a response to the inhibition of lactate uptake is still an unmet clinical need. Here, we report the synthesis, evaluation and in vivo validation of (±)-[18F]-3-fluoro-2-hydroxypropionate ([18F]-FLac) as a tracer of lactate for positron emission tomography. [18F]-FLac offers the possibility to monitor MCT1-dependent lactate uptake and inhibition in tumors in vivo.
Keywords: MCT inhibitors; cancer metabolism; metabolic symbiosis; monocarboxylate transporter 1 (MCT1); positron emission tomography (PET).