Expression of hypoxia-inducible factor-1alpha is associated with tumor vascularization in human colorectal carcinoma

Toshio Kuwai, Yasuhiko Kitadai, Shinji Tanaka, Seiji Onogawa, Norimasa Matsutani, Eijiro Kaio, Masanori Ito, Kazuaki Chayama
International Journal of Cancer. Journal International du Cancer 2003 June 10, 105 (2): 176-81
HIF-1 is reported to transactivate expression of VEGF, which is an important angiogenic factor. To determine whether HIF-1alpha plays a role in angiogenesis through its regulation of VEGF, we examined expression of HIF-1alpha and its relation to clinicopathologic features, VEGF expression and prognosis of patients with colorectal carcinoma. Expression of HIF-1alpha and VEGF was examined in 4 colorectal carcinoma cell lines (COLO320DM, COLO201, DLD-1, WiDr) and 149 colorectal carcinoma tissues (10 fresh specimens, 139 archival, paraffin-embedded specimens). HIF-1alpha protein levels were increased by hypoxia in 3 of 4 colorectal carcinoma cell lines (COLO201, DLD-1, WiDr), and VEGF mRNA levels were also increased by hypoxia in the same cell lines. In 8 of 10 patients with colorectal cancer, expression of HIF-1alpha and VEGF was increased in tumor tissues compared to corresponding normal mucosa. Of 139 archival specimens of colorectal carcinoma, 81 (58.3%) expressed HIF-1alpha protein at a high level. HIF-1alpha expression was correlated with tumor invasion, tumor stage, lymphatic invasion, venous invasion and liver metastasis. Moreover, HIF-1alpha expression was correlated significantly with VEGF expression and microvessel density. Although there was a tendency for poorer prognosis in patients with high HIF-1alpha-expressing tumors, this correlation was not statistically significant. These findings suggest that HIF-1alpha may play a role in angiogenesis and tumor progression via regulation of VEGF in human colorectal carcinoma.

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