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Clin Cancer Res. 2004 Dec 15;10(24):8554-60.

Prognostic impact of hypoxia-inducible factors 1alpha and 2alpha in colorectal cancer patients: correlation with tumor angiogenesis and cyclooxygenase-2 expression.

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  • 1Department of Digestive and General Surgery, Shimane Medical University, Izumo, Japan.



Angiogenesis plays an important role in a multitude of biological processes including those of tumorigenesis and cancer progression. Hypoxia is the prime driving factor for tumor angiogenesis and the family of hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs) plays a pivotal role in this process. The role of HIF in tumor angiogenesis has been underscored in different carcinomas but yet to be reported for colorectal carcinomas.


In this study, we examined HIF [HIF-1alpha (HIF1) and HIF-2alpha (HIF2)] expression in 87 curatively resected colorectal carcinoma samples, and the results were correlated with clinicopathological factors, microvessel density, cyclooxygenase 2 expression, and patient prognosis.


HIF1 (44.8%) was more frequently expressed than HIF2 (29.9%). Most of the clinicopathological factors representing the tumor aggressiveness were significantly correlated with overexpression of HIF2 but not with HIF1 expression. HIF2 expression had direct correlation with microvessel density and cyclooxygenase 2 expression. and, in contrast, HIF1 expression had a weak but significant inverse correlation in T1 and T2 tumors only. HIF2 expression alone and the combined expression of HIF1 and HIF2 had significant impact on patient survival. In the multivariate analysis, however, only the combined expression of HIF1 and HIF2 remained independently significant.


Taken together, our results suggest that HIF2 expression may play an important role in angiogenesis and that the combined expression of HIF1 and HIF2 may play an important role in tumor progression and prognosis of colorectal carcinomas. Therefore, HIF expression could be a useful target for therapeutic intervention.

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