2018 Volume 41 Issue 10 Pages 1508-1516
Glucose, one of the most fundamental sugar elements, has either D- or L-conformation. Of these, most cells preferentially take up D-glucose as an essential energy/carbon source. Such stereoselective uptake of glucose has been explored by fluorophore-bearing D- and L-glucose analogues. 2-[N-(7-Nitrobenz-2-oxa-1,3-diazol-4-yl)amino]-2-deoxy-D-glucose (2-NBDG), the most widely used fluorescent D-glucose analogue, was abundantly taken up into living Escherichia coli cells, whereas no detectable uptake was obtained for 2-[N-(7-nitrobenz-2-oxa-1,3-diazol-4-yl)amino]-2-deoxy-L-glucose (2-NBDLG), the antipode of 2-NBDG developed as a fluorescent L-glucose analogue (fLG). Interestingly, we found three-dimensionally accumulating tumor cell aggregates taking up 2-NBDLG when they expressed nuclear heterogeneity, one of the major cytological criteria for cells suspected of high-grade malignancy in clinical diagnosis. 2-NBDLG uptake was not detected in aggregates consisting of homogeneous cells and was specifically abolished by phloretin, a broad-spectrum inhibitor against transporters/channels. Preliminary studies have suggested that a combined use of 2-NBDLG, which emits green fluorescence, with 13-[4-[(2-deoxy-D-glucopyranose-2-yl)aminosulfonyl]-2-sulfonatophenyl]-4,5-trimethylene-7,8-trimethylene-1,2,3,4,6,9,10,11-octahydro-4-aza-6-oxa-8-azoniapentacene (2-TRLG), a membrane-impermeable fLG bearing a large red fluorophore, is effective for discriminating malignant tumor from benign cells both in living biopsy specimens endoscopically dissected from patients with early-stage gastric cancer and in ascites fluid of patients with gynecological cancers. Confocal endomicroscopic imaging of a carcinogen-induced cancer in bile duct of hamsters indicated that the fLG uptake pattern well correlated with pathological diagnosis for carcinoma. Safety tests according to Good Laboratory Practice regulations have been successfully completed so far. fLGs are unique fluorescent glucose analogues for identifying and characterizing living cancer cells based on derangements in their transport function.