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Mol Imaging. 2005 Jul-Sep;4(3):182-93.

Optical imaging of tumor hypoxia and evaluation of efficacy of a hypoxia-targeting drug in living animals.

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Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine, Japan.


Solid tumors containing more hypoxic regions show a more malignant phenotype by increasing the expression of genes encoding angiogenic and metastatic factors. Hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) is a master transcriptional activator of such genes, and thus, imaging and targeting hypoxic tumor cells where HIF-1 is active are important in cancer therapy. In the present study, HIF-1 activity was monitored via an optical in vivo imaging system by using a luciferase reporter gene under the regulation of an artificial HIF-1-dependent promoter, 5HRE. To monitor tumor hypoxia, we isolated a stable reporter-transfectant, HeLa/5HRE-Luc, which expressed more than 100-fold luciferase in response to hypoxic stress, and observed bioluminescence from its xenografts. Immunohistochemical analysis of the xenografts with a hypoxia marker, pimonidazole, confirmed that the luciferase-expressing cells were hypoxic. Evaluation of the efficacy of a hypoxia-targeting prodrug, TOP3, using this optical imaging system revealed that hypoxic cells were significantly diminished by TOP3 treatment. Immunohistochemical analysis of the TOP3-treated xenografts confirmed that hypoxic cells underwent apoptosis and were removed after TOP3 treatment. These results demonstrate that this model system using the 5HRE-luciferase reporter construct provides qualitative information (hypoxic status) of solid tumors and enables one to conveniently evaluate the efficacy of cancer therapy on hypoxia in malignant solid tumors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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