Signaling Pathways That Drive 18F-FDG Accumulation in Cancer

J Nucl Med. 2022 May;63(5):659-663. doi: 10.2967/jnumed.121.262609. Epub 2022 Mar 3.


18F-FDG measures glucose consumption and is an integral part of cancer management. Most cancer types upregulate their glucose consumption, yielding elevated 18F-FDG PET accumulation in those cancer cells. The biochemical pathway through which 18F-FDG accumulates in cancer cells is well established. However, beyond well-known regulators such as c-Myc, PI3K/PKB, and HIF1α, the proteins and signaling pathways that cancer cells modulate to activate the facilitated glucose transporters and hexokinase enzymes that drive elevated 18F-FDG accumulation are less well understood. Understanding these signaling pathways could yield additional biologic insights from 18F-FDG PET scans and could suggest new uses of 18F-FDG PET in the management of cancer. Work over the past 5 years, building on studies from years prior, has identified new proteins and signaling pathways that drive glucose consumption in cancer. Here, we review these recent studies and discuss current limitations to our understanding of glucose consumption in cancer.

Keywords: 18F-FDG PET; cancer; glucose consumption; molecular imaging; oncology; signaling pathways.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18* / metabolism
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms* / diagnostic imaging
  • Neoplasms* / metabolism
  • Positron-Emission Tomography
  • Signal Transduction


  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18
  • Glucose