Expression of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1alpha is associated with vascular endothelial growth factor expression and tumour angiogenesis in human oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma

Shigeru Kimura, Yasuhiko Kitadai, Shinji Tanaka, Toshio Kuwai, Jun Hihara, Kazuhiro Yoshida, Tetsuya Toge, Kazuaki Chayama
European Journal of Cancer 2004, 40 (12): 1904-12
The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between hypoxia inducible factor (HIF)-1alpha expression, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) expression, and tumour vascularity in squamous cell carcinoma of the oesophagus. Expression of HIF-1alpha and VEGF was examined in two oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma cell lines (TE2, TE3) and 82 archival surgical specimens of human oesophageal squamous cell carcinoma tissue. In both cell lines, the levels of HIF-1alpha protein and VEGF mRNA were increased under hypoxic conditions. Thirty-two of the 82 (39%) tumour specimens showed high levels of HIF-1alpha immunoreactivity in the nuclei and/or cytoplasm of cancer cells. HIF-1alpha expression correlated significantly with venous invasion, VEGF expression, and microvessel density. Among the 47 patients who did not receive pre-operative chemotherapy, the outcome of those with high HIF-1alpha-expressing tumours was significantly poorer than that of those with low HIF-1alpha-expressing tumours. These results suggest that HIF-1alpha and VEGF expression are important determinants of survival in squamous cell carcinoma of the oesophagus.

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