Probing carbohydrate metabolism using hyperpolarized 13 C-labeled molecules

NMR Biomed. 2019 Oct;32(10):e4018. doi: 10.1002/nbm.4018. Epub 2018 Nov 26.


Glycolysis is a fundamental metabolic process in all organisms. Anomalies in glucose metabolism are linked to various pathological conditions. In particular, elevated aerobic glycolysis is a characteristic feature of rapidly growing cells. Glycolysis and the closely related pentose phosphate pathway can be monitored in real time by hyperpolarized 13 C-labeled metabolic substrates such as 13 C-enriched, deuterated D-glucose derivatives, [2-13 C]-D-fructose, [2-13 C] dihydroxyacetone, [1-13 C]-D-glycerate, [1-13 C]-D-glucono-δ-lactone and [1-13 C] pyruvate in healthy and diseased tissues. Elevated glycolysis in tumors (the Warburg effect) was also successfully imaged using hyperpolarized [U-13 C6 , U-2 H7 ]-D-glucose, while the size of the preexisting lactate pool can be measured by 13 C MRS and/or MRI with hyperpolarized [1-13 C]pyruvate. This review summarizes the application of various hyperpolarized 13 C-labeled metabolites to the real-time monitoring of glycolysis and related metabolic processes in normal and diseased tissues.

Keywords: dynamic nuclear polarization; glycolysis; hyperpolarized 13C NMR; metabolic probes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carbohydrate Metabolism*
  • Carbon Isotopes / metabolism*
  • Glycolysis
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Metabolome
  • Time Factors


  • Carbon Isotopes
  • Carbon-13