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Int J Cancer. 2003 Jun 10;105(2):176-81.

Expression of hypoxia-inducible factor-1alpha is associated with tumor vascularization in human colorectal carcinoma.

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Department of Medicine and Molecular Science, Hiroshima University Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Hiroshima, Japan.


HIF-1 is reported to transactivate expression of VEGF, which is an important angiogenic factor. To determine whether HIF-1alpha plays a role in angiogenesis through its regulation of VEGF, we examined expression of HIF-1alpha and its relation to clinicopathologic features, VEGF expression and prognosis of patients with colorectal carcinoma. Expression of HIF-1alpha and VEGF was examined in 4 colorectal carcinoma cell lines (COLO320DM, COLO201, DLD-1, WiDr) and 149 colorectal carcinoma tissues (10 fresh specimens, 139 archival, paraffin-embedded specimens). HIF-1alpha protein levels were increased by hypoxia in 3 of 4 colorectal carcinoma cell lines (COLO201, DLD-1, WiDr), and VEGF mRNA levels were also increased by hypoxia in the same cell lines. In 8 of 10 patients with colorectal cancer, expression of HIF-1alpha and VEGF was increased in tumor tissues compared to corresponding normal mucosa. Of 139 archival specimens of colorectal carcinoma, 81 (58.3%) expressed HIF-1alpha protein at a high level. HIF-1alpha expression was correlated with tumor invasion, tumor stage, lymphatic invasion, venous invasion and liver metastasis. Moreover, HIF-1alpha expression was correlated significantly with VEGF expression and microvessel density. Although there was a tendency for poorer prognosis in patients with high HIF-1alpha-expressing tumors, this correlation was not statistically significant. These findings suggest that HIF-1alpha may play a role in angiogenesis and tumor progression via regulation of VEGF in human colorectal carcinoma.

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