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Clin Cancer Res. 2005 Oct 15;11(20):7220-5.

Carbonic anhydrase IX expression and tumor oxygenation status do not correlate at the microregional level in locally advanced cancers of the uterine cervix.

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  • 1Institute of Physiology and Pathophysiology, University of Mainz, Mainz, Germany. arnmayer@uni-mainz.de



Carbonic anhydrase IX (CA IX) can be induced by hypoxia in vitro and shows an immunohistochemical expression pattern that is predominantly found in perinecrotic tumor areas and correlates with exogenous markers of hypoxia, such as pimonidazole. CA IX might therefore serve as an endogenous marker of tumor hypoxia, although comparisons of CA IX immunostaining with direct oxygenation measurements using pO2 microsensors have thus far yielded contradictory results.


Because tumor heterogeneity may be among the factors responsible for the discrepancy between the two methods, CA IX expression in tissue samples originating from oxygen microelectrode tracks of locally advanced cervical cancers was assessed in this study. Seventy-seven biopsy specimens were analyzed immunohistochemically using an anti-CA IX rabbit polyclonal antibody and semiquantitative scoring.


CA IX expression showed no correlation with the oxygenation variables median pO2 and hypoxic fraction 2.5, 5, or 10. Cases with higher International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics stages (IIb-IVa) exhibited stronger expression of CA IX (P = 0.035) and CA IX expression tended to be more prevalent in node-positive patients (P = 0.051).


These data indicate that CA IX cannot be recommended as a substitute for oxygen microelectrode measurements. That the expression of CA IX does not correlate with the oxygenation status may be due to the degree to which other factors, such as nutrient (e.g., glucose) deficiency or the action of oncogenic mutations, can modulate the in vivo expression of this protein, rendering a strict association with tumor hypoxia too unreliable for clinical use.

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