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Br J Cancer. 1997;75(3):311-8.

Anomalous patterns of nitroimidazole binding adjacent to necrosis in human glioma xenografts: possible role of decreased oxygen consumption.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, Cross Cancer Institute, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.


In contrast to reports of extensive hypoxia in human gliomas in situ measured by pO2 histography, non-invasive methods of assessing glioma oxygenation, including nitroimidazole binding, have yielded surprisingly contradictory results. In order to investigate the relationship of necrosis, hypoxia, nitroreductase activity and cellular respiration in human gliomas, subcutaneous models using the human glioma cell lines M059K, M006 and M010b were developed in the murine SCID host. Intracranial growth of the M006 line was achieved in nude rats. The nitroreductive capacity of glioma cell lines was assessed and found to be similar to transplanted tumours previously reported in the literature. This suggests that if substantial numbers of viable hypoxic cells were present in situ in gliomas, then nitroimidazole-binding techniques should be capable of identifying them. Inter-tumour variability in the amount of necrosis was seen. M006 xenografts growing in subcutaneous and intracranial sites revealed extensive necrotic regions histologically, some of which were surrounded by cells labelled heavily for [3H]misonidazole, while other areas were lightly labelled. Similar binding patterns were seen for subcutaneous M059K tumours, while subcutaneous M010b tumours display necroses of which almost all were surrounded by heavily labelled cells. The oxygen consumption rates of tumour cell lines grown in vivo, in which venous pO2 concentrations are of the order of 2-5%, were two to sevenfold less than those of the same lines grown as monolayers in vitro under oxygen concentrations of 18%. We postulate that glioma cell lines behave as 'oxygen conformers', in that their rate of oxygen consumption appears to vary with the availability of oxygen. Together with the misonidazole-binding data, the results in this glioma tumour model are consistent with coordinate inhibition or down-regulation of respiration under moderate hypoxia.

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