HIF 1-alpha overexpression indicates a good prognosis in early stage squamous cell carcinomas of the oral floor

Thomas Fillies, Richard Werkmeister, Paul J. van Diest, Burkhard Brandt, Ulrich Joos, Horst Buerger

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108 Scopus citations


Background: Hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1) is a transcription factor, which plays a central role in biologic processes under hypoxic conditions, especially concerning tumour angiogenesis. HIF-1α is the relevant, oxygen-dependent subunit and its overexpression has been associated with a poor prognosis in a variety of malignant tumours. Therefore, HIF-1α expression in early stage oral carcinomas was evaluated in relation to established clinico-pathological features in order to determine its value as a prognostic marker. Methods: 85 patients with histologically proven surgically treated T1/2 squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the oral floor were eligible for the study. Tumor specimens were investigated by means of tissue micro arrays (TMAs) and immunohistochemistry for the expression of HIF-1. Correlations between clinical features and the expression of HIF-1 were evaluated by Kaplan-Meier curves, log-rank tests and multivariate Cox regression analysis. Results: HIF-1α was frequently overexpressed in a probably non-hypoxia related fashion. The expression of HIF-1α was related with a significantly improved 5-year survival rate (p < 0.01) and a significantly increased disease free period (p = 0.01) independent from nodal status and tumour size. In primary node negative T1/T2 SCC of the oral floor, absence of HIF-1α expression specified a subgroup of high-risk patients (p < 0.05). Conclusion: HIF-1α overexpression is an indicator of favourable prognosis in T1 and T2 SCC of the oral floor. Node negative patients lacking HIF-1α expression may therefore be considered for adjuvant radiotherapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number84
JournalBMC cancer
StatePublished - Jul 21 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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