In Vivo Assessment of Increased Oxidation of Branched-Chain Amino Acids in Glioblastoma
Altered branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) metabolism is a distinctive feature of various cancers and plays an important role in sustaining tumor proliferation and aggressiveness. Despite the therapeutic and diagnostic potentials, the role of BCAA metabolism in cancer and the activities of associated enzymes remain unclear. Due to its pivotal role in BCAA metabolism and rapid cellular transport, hyperpolarized ¹³C-labeled α-ketoisocaproate (KIC), the α-keto acid corresponding to leucine, can assess both BCAA aminotransferase (BCAT) and branched-chain α-keto acid dehydrogenase complex (BCKDC) activities via production of [1-¹³C]leucine or ¹³CO₂ (and thus (H¹³CO₃-), respectively. Here, we investigated BCAA metabolism of F98 rat glioma model in vivo using hyperpolarized ¹³C-KIC. In tumor regions, we observed a decrease in ¹³C-leucine production from injected hyperpolarized ¹³C-KIC via BCAT compared to the contralateral normal-appearing brain, and an increase in H¹³CO₃-, a catabolic product of KIC through the mitochondrial BCKDC. A parallel ex vivo ¹³C NMR isotopomer analysis following steady-state infusion of [U-¹³C] leucine to glioma-bearing rats verified the increased oxidation of leucine in glioma tissue. Both the in vivo hyperpolarized KIC imaging and the leucine infusion study indicate that KIC catabolism is upregulated through BCAT/BCKDC and further oxidized via the citric acid cycle in F98 glioma.