Inhibition of hypoxia inducible factor-1alpha (HIF-1alpha) decreases vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) secretion and tumor growth in malignant gliomas

Randy L Jensen, Brian T Ragel, Kum Whang, David Gillespie
Journal of Neuro-oncology 2006, 78 (3): 233-47

INTRODUCTION: Hypoxia inducible factor-1alpha (HIF-1alpha) regulates vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), the presumed principal mediator of angiogenesis in malignant gliomas, under normal physiologic conditions. We examined the effect of HIF-1alpha on VEGF secretion, tumor growth, and angiogenesis in malignant gliomas.

METHODS: We examined 175 human gliomas for expression of HIF-1alpha and its downstream-regulated proteins. HIF-1alpha expression and VEGF secretion in glioma cell lines under normoxia and hypoxia were examined using ELISA and Western blot. Malignant glioma cell lines were transfected with dominant-negative HIF-1alpha (DN-HIF-1alpha) expression vector or siRNA constructs against the HIF-1alpha gene. Growth studies were conducted on cells with the highest VEGF/HIF-1alpha inhibition isolated from stable transfected cell lines. MIB-1-labeling index and microvascular density (MVD) measurements were performed on the in vivo tumors.

RESULTS: HIF-1 expression correlates with malignant glioma phenotype and was not confined to perinecrotic, pseudopalisading cells. VEGF and HIF-1 expression was high in glioma cell lines even under normoxia, and increased after exposure to hypoxia or growth factor stimulation. Cells transfected with DN-HIF-1alpha or HIF-1alpha siRNA demonstrated decreased HIF-1alpha and VEGF secretion. In vivo but not in vitro growth decreased in response to VEGF and HIF-1 inhibition. HIF-1 siRNA studies showed decreased VEGF secretion and in vitro and in vivo growth of glioma cell lines. MVD was unchanged but MIB-1 proliferation index decreased for both types of HIF-1 inhibition.

CONCLUSIONS: VEGF and HIF-1alpha are elevated in malignant gliomas. HIF-1alpha inhibition results in VEGF secretion inhibition. HIF-1alpha expression affects glioma tumor growth, suggesting clinical applications for malignant glioma treatment.

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