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Cancer Res. 1998 Jan 15;58(2):348-51.

Insulin-like growth factor II induced by hypoxia may contribute to angiogenesis of human hepatocellular carcinoma.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Biology, Pusan National University, Korea. kimkw@hyowon.cc.pusan.ac.kr


Insulin-like growth factor II (IGF-II) is highly expressed during hepatocarcinogenesis (P. Schirmacher et al., Cancer Res., 52: 2549-2556, 1992; B. C. Park et al., J. Hepatol., 22: 286-294, 1995). However, the mechanism of its enhanced expression is largely unknown. In this study, we show that IGF-II mRNA levels are increased within six h of exposing human hepatoma cell cultures to hypoxia, suggesting that hypoxia may be a strong stimulus for the induction of IGF-II expression in the process of hepatocarcinogenesis. This finding and the fact that hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a typical hypervascular tumor (M. Mise et al., Hepatology, 23: 455-464, 1996) imply that IGF-II may play an important role in the development of neovascularization of HCC. Here we demonstrate that IGF-II substantially increases vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) mRNA and protein levels in a time-dependent manner in human hepatoma cells. The induction of VEGF by IGF-II was additively increased by hypoxia. Moreover, the direct angiogenic activity of IGF-II was observed in the quantitative chick chorioallantoic membrane assay (M. Nguyen et al., Microvasc. Res., 47: 31-40, 1994). These data suggest that IGF-II may be a hypoxia-inducible angiogenic factor in HCC.

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