Measuring relative utilization of aerobic glycolysis in breast cancer cells by positional isotopic discrimination

Da Qing Yang, Dana M. Freund, Benjamin R E Harris, Defeng Wang, Margot P. Cleary, Adrian D. Hegeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The ability of cancer cells to produce lactate through aerobic glycolysis is a hallmark of cancer. In this study, we established a positional isotopic labeling and LC-MS-based method that can specifically measure the conversion of glucose to lactate in glycolysis. We show that the rate of aerobic glycolysis is closely correlated with glucose uptake and lactate production in breast cancer cells. We also found that the production of [3-13C]lactate is significantly elevated in metastatic breast cancer cells and in early stage metastatic mammary tumors in mice. Our findings may enable the development of a biomarker for the diagnosis of aggressive breast cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3179-3187
Number of pages9
JournalFEBS Letters
Issue number18
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Dr. David Potter in the Department of Medicine of the University of Minnesota for his helpful input for our experiments. We also thank Susan Jiang for her technical assistance. This project is supported by a Grant-In-Aid Award (Yang) from the University of Minnesota, a Research Project grant form National Cancer Institute of National Institute of Health (1R01CA157012-01A1, Cleary), the National Science Foundation (NSF) Plant Genome Research Program grants (IOS-1400818 & IOS-1238812, Hegeman), and a NSF Fellowship grant (IOS-1400818, Freund).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Federation of European Biochemical Societies


  • LC-MS
  • breast cancer and aerobic glycolysis
  • glucose uptake
  • stable isotopic labeling


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