Measuring In Vivo Tissue Metabolism Using 13C Glucose Infusions in Mice

  • Dorien Broekaert
  • Sarah-Maria FendtEmail author
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 1862)


Metabolic alterations are a hallmark of cancer. While determining metabolic changes in vitro has delivered valuable insight into the metabolism of cancer cells, it emerges that determining the in vivo metabolism adds an additional layer of information. Here, we therefore describe how to measure the in vivo metabolism of cancer tissue using 13C glucose infusions in mice.

Key words

In vivo metabolism 13C tracer analysis Metabolomics 13C glucose infusions Cancer metabolism 



We thank Juan Fernández-García for his feedback on the protocol. S.-M.F. acknowledges funding from the European Research Council under the ERC Consolidator Grant Agreement n. 771486–MetaRegulation; Marie Curie—CIG, FWO—Odysseus II, FWO—Research Grants/Projects, Eugène Yourassowsky Schenking, and KU Leuven—Methusalem Co-Funding. We would like to acknowledge for image elements used in Fig. 6 (Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-SA 4.0).


  1. 1.
    Elia I, Schmieder R, Christen S et al (2016) Organ-specific cancer metabolism and its potential for therapy. Handb Exp Pharmacol 233:321–353CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Lorendeau D, Rinaldi G, Boon R et al (2017) Dual loss of succinate dehydrogenase (SDH) and complex I activity is necessary to recapitulate the metabolic phenotype of SDH mutant tumors. Metab Eng 43(Pt B):187–197CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Rinaldi G, Rossi M, Fendt SM (2017) Metabolic interactions in cancer: cellular metabolism at the interface between the microenvironment, the cancer cell phenotype and the epigenetic landscape. Wiley Interdiscip Rev Syst Biol Med. Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Lunt SY, Fendt SM (2018) Metabolism–a cornerstone of cancer initiation, progression, immune evasion and treatment response. Curr Opin Syst Biol 8:67–72. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Elia I, Doglioni G, Fendt SM (2018) Metabolic hallmarks of metastasis. Trends Cell Biol, epub ahead of print.
  6. 6.
    Fendt SM (2017) Is there a therapeutic window for metabolism-based cancer therapies? Front Endocrinol (Lausanne) 8:150. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Elia I, Fendt SM (2016) In vivo cancer metabolism is defined by the nutrient microenvironment. Transl Cancer Res 5(Suppl. 6). CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Buescher JM, Antoniewicz MR, Boros LG et al (2015) A roadmap for interpreting (13)C metabolite labelling patterns from cells. Curr Opin Biotechnol 34:189–201. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Hensley CT, Faubert B, Yuan Q et al (2016) Metabolic heterogeneity in human lung tumors. Cell 164(4):681–694. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Christen S, Lorendeau D, Schmieder R et al (2016) Breast cancer-derived lung metastases show increased pyruvate carboxylase-dependent anaplerosis. Cell Rep 17(3):837–848CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Davidson SM, Papagiannakopoulos T, Olenchock BA et al (2016) Environment impacts the metabolic dependencies of Ras-driven non-small cell lung cancer. Cell Metab 23(3):517–528. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Elia I, Broekaert D, Christen S et al (2017) Proline metabolism supports metastasis formation and could be inhibited to selectively target metastasizing cancer cells. Nat Commun 8:15267CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Cellular Metabolism and Metabolic Regulation, VIB Center for Cancer BiologyVIBLeuvenBelgium
  2. 2.Laboratory of Cellular Metabolism and Metabolic Regulation, Department of Oncology, Leuven Cancer Institute (LKI)KU LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  3. 3.Laboratory of Cellular Metabolism and Metabolic Regulation, Department of OncologyVIB-KU Leuven Center for Cancer BiologyLeuvenBelgium

Personalised recommendations