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Hypoxic heterogeneity in human tumors: EF5 binding, vasculature, necrosis, and proliferation.

Evans SM. Hahn SM. Magarelli DP. Koch CJ.
American Journal of Clinical Oncology. 24(5):467-72, 2001 Oct.

We evaluated the levels and distribution of hypoxia in 31 human tumors using fluorescent immunohistochemical detection of binding by the 2-nitroimidazole, EF5. Hypoxia was found to be a heterogeneous property of human tumors. Necrosis was usually found adjacent to the highest level of binding in an individual patient's tumor. However, hypoxia often occurred without necrosis. In the group of tumors studied, the most common relationship between blood vessels (PECAM/CD31) and EF5 staining was consistent with diffusion-limited hypoxia; acute hypoxia occurred infrequently. Within a given patient's tumor, there was an inverse correlation between regions of proliferation (Ki-67) and regions of hypoxia. Again, however, when these parameters were examined in a group of patients, the absence of proliferation did not predict the presence of hypoxia. The relationships between hypoxia and other biologic endpoints are complex, but, within a given tumor's spatial relationships, they are in accord with known physiologic principles. Thus, our data emphasize that the relationships between hypoxia and other biologic parameters vary between patients. Necrosis, proliferation, and blood vessel distribution cannot predict the level or presence of hypoxia in an individual patient's tumor.

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