2-Deoxy-D-glucose-induced cytotoxicity and radiosensitization in tumor cells is mediated via disruptions in thiol metabolism

Xiao Lin, Fanjie Zhang, C. Matthew Bradbury, Aradhana Kaushal, Ling Li, Douglas R. Spitz, Rebecca L. Aft, David Gius

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

136 Scopus citations


Exposure to ionizing radiation is believed to cause cell injury via the production of free radicals that are thought to induce oxidative damage. It has been proposed that exposure to agents that enhance oxidative stress-induced injury by disrupting thiol metabolism may sensitize cells to the cytotoxic effects of ionizing radiation. Recently, it has been shown that glucose deprivation selectively induces cell injury in transformed human cells via metabolic oxidative stress (J. Biol. Chem., 273: 5294-5299; Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci., 899: 349-362), resulting in profound disruptions in thiol metabolism. Because 2-deoxy-D-glucose (2DG) is a potent inhibitor of glucose metabolism thought to mimic glucose deprivation in vivo, the hypothesis that exposure to 2DG might be capable of inducing radiosensitization in transformed cells via perturbations in thiol metabolism was tested. When HeLa cells were exposed to 2DG (4-10 mM) for 4-72 h, cell survival decreased (20-90%) in a doseand time-dependent fashion. When HeLa cells were treated with 6 mM 2DG for 16 h before ionizing radiation exposure, radisensitization was observed with a sensitizer enhancement ratio of 1.4 at 10% isosurvival. Treatment with 2DG was also found to cause decreases in intracellular total glutathione content (50%). Simultaneous treatment with the thiol antioxidant N-acetylcysteine (NAC; 30 mM) protected HeLa cells against the cytotoxicity and radiosensitizing effects of 2DG, without altering radiosensitivity in the absence of 2DG. Furthermore, treatment with NAC partially reversed the 2DG-induced decreases in total glutathione content, as well as augmented intracellular cysteine content. Finally, the cytotoxicity and radiosensitizing effects of 2DG were more pronounced in v-Fos-transformed versus nontransformed immortalized rat cells, and this radiosensitization was also inhibited by treatment with NAC. These results support the hypothesis that exposure to 2DG causes cytotoxicity and radiosensitization via a mechanism involving perturbations in thiol metabolism and allows for the speculation that these effects may be more pronounced in transformed versus normal cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3413-3417
Number of pages5
JournalCancer Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 15 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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