Distinct temporospatial expression patterns of glycolysis-related proteins in human hepatocellular carcinoma

Katjana Daskalow, David Pfander, Wilko Weichert, Nadine Rohwer, Armin Thelen, Peter Neuhaus, Sven Jonas, Bertram Wiedenmann, Christoph Benckert, Thorsten Cramer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) represents the sixth most frequent human cancer worldwide and is characterized by rapid progression as well as resistance to systemic chemotherapy. Recently, glycolysis has emerged as a potent driving force of tumor growth and therapy failure. The precise role of glycolysis for the pathogenesis of human HCC has not been elucidated thus far. Therefore, we have conducted a comprehensive analysis of the expression patterns of central glycolysis-related factors [glucose transporter-1 and -2 (Glut-1 and Glut-2), phosphoglycerate kinase-1 (PGK-1) and hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α)] in a large cohort of benign and malignant human liver samples. PGK-1 protein and gene expression was scant in normal liver, elevated in cirrhotic livers and most intense in HCC. Strong immunoreactivity of Glut-2 was noted in cirrhotic livers, whereas in HCC it was only expressed in 50% of examined cases. Strikingly, PGK-1 as well as Glut-2 protein expression was indicative of poor patient prognosis. Glut-1 protein was absent in neoplastic hepatocytes but prominent in tumor-associated endothelial cells. Specific nuclear staining of HIF-1α was noted in only 12% of HCC samples. Our data point toward a tumor-promoting function of glycolysis in HCC and establish PGK-1 as an independent prognostic parameter. Furthermore, the endothelial-specific expression of Glut-1 makes a special dependence of vessels on glucose reasonable to assume. In summary, we believe our analysis warrants the validation of glycolytic inhibitors as innovative treatment approaches of human HCC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-31
Number of pages11
JournalHistochemistry and Cell Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Glut-1
  • Glut-2
  • Glycolysis
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma
  • Hif-1α
  • Hypoxia
  • Pgk-1


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