American Journal of Pharmacogenomics

, Volume 5, Issue 5, pp 293–302

Detection of Resistance to Imatinib by Metabolic Profiling

Clinical and Drug Development Implications

DOI: 10.2165/00129785-200505050-00002

Cite this article as:
Serkova, N. & Boros, L.G. Am J Pharmacogenomics (2005) 5: 293. doi:10.2165/00129785-200505050-00002


Acquired resistance to imatinib mesylate is an increasing and continued challenge in the treatment of BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase positive leukemias as well as gastrointestinal stromal tumors. Stable isotope-based dynamic metabolic profiling (SIDMAP) studies conducted in parallel with the development and clinical testing of imatinib revealed that this targeted drug is most effective in controlling glucose transport, direct glucose oxidation for RNA ribose synthesis in the pentose cycle, as well as de novo long-chain fatty acid synthesis. Thus imatinib deprives transformed cells of the key substrate of macromolecule synthesis, malignant cell proliferation, and growth. Tracer-based magnetic resonance spectroscopy studies revealed a restitution of mitochondrial glucose metabolism and an increased energy state by reversing the Warburg effect, consistent with a subsequent decrease in anaerobic glycolysis. Recent in vitro SIDMAP studies that involved myeloid cells isolated from patients who developed resistance against imatinib indicated that non-oxidative ribose synthesis from glucose and decreased mitochondrial glucose oxidation are reliable metabolic signatures of drug resistance and disease progression. There is also evidence that imatinib-resistant cells utilize alternate substrates for macromolecule synthesis to overcome limited glucose transport controlled by imatinib. The main clinical implications involve early detection of imatinib resistance and the identification of new metabolic enzyme targets with the potential of overcoming drug resistance downstream of the various genetic and BCR-ABL-expression derived mechanisms. Metabolic profiling is an essential tool used to predict, clinically detect, and treat targeted drug resistance. This need arises from the fact that targeted drugs are narrowly conceived against genes and proteins but the metabolic network is inherently complex and flexible to activate alternative macromolecule synthesis pathways that targeted drugs fail to control.

Copyright information

© Adis Data Information BV 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Anesthesiology, Biomedical MRS/MRI Cancer CoreUniversity of Colorado Health Sciences CenterDenverUSA
  2. 2.SIDMAP, LLCLos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at UCLATorranceUSA

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