Molecular Imaging and Biology

, Volume 21, Issue 6, pp 1117–1126 | Cite as

Metabolic Evaluation of MYCN-Amplified Neuroblastoma by 4-[18F]FGln PET Imaging

  • Chao Li
  • Shuo Huang
  • Jun Guo
  • Cheng Wang
  • Zhichao Huang
  • Ruimin HuangEmail author
  • Liang Liu
  • Sheng LiangEmail author
  • Hui WangEmail author
Research Article



This study aims to explore whether 4-(2S,4R)-[18F]fluoroglutamine (4-[18F]FGln) positron emission tomography (PET) imaging is helpful in identifying and monitoring MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma by enhanced glutamine metabolism.


Cell uptake studies and dynamic small-animal PET studies of 4-[18F]FGln and 2-deoxy-2-[18F]fluoro-D-glucose ([18F]FDG) were conducted in human MYCN-amplified (IMR-32 and SK-N-BE (2) cells) and non-MYCN-amplified (SH-SY5Y cell) neuroblastoma cells and animal models. Subsequently, short hairpin RNA (shRNA) knockdown of alanine-serine-cysteine transporter 2 (ASCT2/SLC1A5) in IMR-32 cells and xenografts were investigated in vitro and in vivo. Western blot (WB), real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), and immunofluorescence (IF) assays were used to measure the prevalence of ASCT2, Ki-67, and c-Caspase 3, respectively.


IMR-32 and SK-N-BE (2) cells showed high glutamine uptake in vitro (31.6 ± 1.7 and 21.6 ± 6.6 %ID/100 μg). In the in vivo study, 4-[18F]FGln was localized in IMR-32, SK-N-BE (2), and SH-SY5Y tumors with a high uptake (6.6 ± 0.3, 5.6 ± 0.2, and 3.7 ± 0.1 %ID/g). The maximum uptake (tumor-to-muscle, T/M) of the IMR-32 and SK-N-BE (2) tumors (3.71 and 2.63) was significantly higher than that of SH-SY5Y (1.54) tumors (P < 0.001, P < 0.001). The maximum uptake of 4-[18F]FGln in IMR-32 and SK-N-BE (2) tumors was 2.3-fold and 2.1-fold higher than that of [18F]FDG, respectively. Furthermore, in the in vitro and in vivo studies, the maximum uptake of 4-[18F]FGln in shASCT2-IMR-32 cells and tumors was 2.1-fold and 2.5-fold lower than that of the shControl-IMR-32. No significant difference in [18F]FDG uptake was found between shASCT2-IMR-32 and shControl-IMR-32 cells and tumors.


4-[18F]FGln PET can provide a valuable clinical tool in the assessment of metabolic glutamine uptake in MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma. ASCT2-targeted therapy may provide a supplementary method in MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma treatment.

Key Words

Glutamine PET MYCN ASCT2 Neuroblastoma 



All authors thank the Institutional Technology Service Center of Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica for the technical support.

Authors’ Contributions

CL and RH supervised the process of the study and performed the manuscript writing. HS, ZH, and CW performed the xenograft mice study and PET imaging. JG and LS are responsible for the radiolabeling of 4-[18F]FGln and [18F]FDG. CL and SH participated in western blot, real-time PCR work and IF. LL, CL, and LS are responsible for the data analysis. HW as scientific director has coordinated and approved the work. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation (91859106, 81771890), the “Personalized Medicines—Molecular Signature-based Drug Discovery and Development,” Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (XDA12020108), and One Hundred Talent Program of Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethics Approval

All applicable international, national, and institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.


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Copyright information

© World Molecular Imaging Society 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Nuclear Medicine, Xinhua HospitalShanghai Jiao Tong University, School of MedicineShanghaiChina
  2. 2.Department of Nuclear Medicine, Renji HospitalShanghai Jiao Tong University, School of MedicineShanghaiChina
  3. 3.PINGSENG HealthcareKunshanChina
  4. 4.Shanghai Institute of Materia MedicaChinese Academy of SciencesShanghaiChina
  5. 5.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  6. 6.Department of CardiologyShanghai Jiao Tong University Affiliated Sixth People’s HospitalShanghaiChina

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