Angiogenesis in human renal cell carcinoma : hypoxia, vascularity and prognosis

Sammanfattning: Background: Angiogenesis is recognised as a critical step in tumour progression. The angiogenic switch is activated by various trigger signals, such as hypoxia, low pH, and genetic mutations. Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is often an aggressive tumour, and advanced disease has limited treatment options and bad prognosis. This study was focused on markers of angiogenesis in RCC: endoglin (CD105) and CD31 assessing microvessel density (MVD), and carbonic anhydrase (CA) IX and hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-2α expressed at hypoxia. Upregulation of HIF is also associated with inactivation of the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) tumour suppressor gene, which is common in conventional/clear cell (c)RCC. Method: A tumour bank containing 308 tumours from patients operated 1982-2003 was used. The tumours were well characterised regarding tumour type, TNM stage, nuclear grade, tumour size, and patient survival. The tumours were prepared in tissue microarrays and fresh frozen in whole sections. To analyse the expression of endoglin, CD31, CA IX, and HIF-2α mRNA, immunohistochemistry and real-time PCR were used. Results: There was a higher endoglin expression in cRCC than in papillary (p)RCC and chromophobe (ch)RCC, and a higher CD31 expression in cRCC than in pRCC. MVD correlated inversely to TNM stage and nuclear grade in cRCC. There was also an inverse correlation between tumour diameter and CD31 expression in cRCCs. Patients with cRCC with high MVD had a more favourable prognosis than patients with lower MVD. Endoglin and CD31 were not independent prognostic factors. The CA IX expression was higher in cRCC than in pRCC and chRCC. Patients with cRCC expressing low CA IX had a significantly less favourable prognosis compared with those with higher expression. CA IX is an independent prognostic factor. There was a higher HIF-2α mRNA expression in cRCC than in pRCC and chRCC. In cRCC, there was a significant inverse correlation between HIF-2α mRNA expression, and TNM stage and nuclear grade. There was also an inverse correlation between HIF-2α mRNA expression and tumour size among patients with cRCC. HIF-2α was not an independent prognostic factor. Conclusion: In these studies, the factors related to hypoxia and vascularity were all inversely correlated to tumour aggressiveness in cRCC. MVD, CA IX, and HIF-2α expression were also higher in cRCC than in pRCC and chRCC. The relationship between angiogenesis, vascularity, and hypoxia is ambiguous. A line of reasoning including mutations increasing angiogenesis in advanced disease may also be applied to RCC. Measurements of individual angiogenic factors seem to provide prognostic information, and can potentially be combined in patient monitoring and treatment.