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PURPOSE: Hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1alpha expression was studied retrospectively in locally advanced carcinoma of the cervix in relation to other methods for measuring/assessing tumor hypoxia and outcome after radiotherapy. EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: HIF-1alpha expression was examined in formalin-fixed tumor biopsies using a semiquantitative scoring system and correlated with measurements of hypoxia obtained using oxygen electrodes, pimonidazole staining, and carbonic anhydrase 9. RESULTS: High HIF-1alpha expression showed a weak correlation with low pO2 (r = -0.26; P = 0.030; n = 72). Weak significant correlations were found between HIF-1alpha and pimonidazole staining (r = 0.34; P = 0.040; n = 36) and carbonic anhydrase IX (r = 0.27; P = 0.001; n = 160). There was no relationship with surviving fraction at 2 Gy. The relationship between HIF-1alpha expression and radiotherapy outcome was examined in 99 patients. HIF-1alpha expression did not correlate with disease stage, grade, tumor size, and patient age. HIF-1alpha alone was not a significant prognostic factor for disease-free survival, metastasis-free survival, or local recurrence-free survival. High HIF-1alpha expression tended to be associated with poor outcome in small tumors but good outcome in large tumors, with statistically significant interactions between HIF-1alpha and tumor size for survival (P = 0.046) and local control (P = 0.009). CONCLUSIONS: In this study, HIF-1alpha had no prognostic significance in locally advanced carcinoma of the cervix. The possible switch in large tumors for an association between high HIF-1alpha expression and good outcome might relate to tumor size-related changes in the balance of genes up-regulated by HIF-1alpha. Whereas angiogenesis-promoting genes might be preferentially up-regulated in small tumors, proapoptotic genes might be induced in large tumors. This hypothesis needs testing in future work.

Original publication




Journal article


Clin Cancer Res

Publication Date





8405 - 8412


Antigens, Neoplasm, Biomarkers, Tumor, Carbonic Anhydrase IX, Carbonic Anhydrases, Disease-Free Survival, Female, Humans, Hypoxia, Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit, Ion-Selective Electrodes, Middle Aged, Neoplasm Recurrence, Local, Nitroimidazoles, Oxygen, Prognosis, Radiation-Sensitizing Agents, Survival Rate, Transcription Factors, Treatment Outcome, Uterine Cervical Neoplasms