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ItemThe role of hypoxia inducible factor 1 alpha (HIF1α) in prostate cancerRanasinghe, Weranja Kalana Bodhisiri ( 2016)Prostate cancer (PC) is one of the most prevalent cancers in men. Although many PCs are indolent, a significant proportion will metastasize and develop resistance to therapy. Contemporary screening tests lack the finesse to accurately differentiate aggressive PCs from indolent tumours, potentially leading to over-diagnosis and over-treatment. While cellular hypoxia often plays an integral role in carcinogenesis and tumour progression, this connection has been difficult to demonstrate in PC. However, a downstream marker of hypoxia, Hypoxia inducible factor 1α (HIF1α), which is a transcription factor that protects cells against noxious stimuli, is frequently over expressed in PC. Therefore, the role of HIF1α in PC was investigated in this thesis. The Castrate resistant PC (CRPC)-like human PC cell lines PC3 and DU145 were found to over-express HIF1α protein compared to an androgen-sensitive cell line LNCaP under normoxic conditions. Using HIF1α 5’UTR-luciferase constructs in PC3 cells, further experiments revealed that increased translation of HIF1α mRNA regulated by a 70bp GC-rich, secondary structure in the 5’UTR of the HIF1α promoter may be responsible for normoxic HIF1α overexpression. Cell proliferation assays revealed that PC3 cells over-expressing HIF1α were more resistant to destruction by cytotoxic agents (H2O2 and 5-fluorouracil) than androgen-dependent LNCaP cells. Reduction of HIF1α expression in PC3 cells using RNA interference decreased both the resistance towards cytotoxic agents and cell migration. Conversely, in the androgen-dependent LNCaP cells overexpression of HIF1α increased the resistance to cytotoxic agents. One hundred prostate tumours were then immune-stained for HIF1α and outcomes measured. On multivariate analysis HIF1α was an independent risk factor for progression to metastatic PC (Hazard ratio (HR) 9.8, p = 0.017) and development of CRPC (HR 10.0, p = 0.021) in patients on androgen-deprivation therapy (ADT). Notably the tumours that did not express HIF1α did not metastasise or develop CRPC. Next, the effects of non-specific HIF1α inhibitors (digoxin, metformin and angiotensin-2 receptor blockers) were investigated in ninety-eight patients who had continuous ADT as first line therapy and developed CRPC. The median CRPC-free survival was longer in men using HIF1α inhibitors compared to those not on inhibitors (6.7 yrs vs. 2.7yrs, p=0.01) and there was a 71% reduction in the risk of developing CRPC (p=0.02) and an 81% reduction in the risk of developing metastases (p=0.02) after adjustment for Gleason score, age and PSA. Finally, the effects of metformin were investigated in 2055 men treated for PC with external beam radiotherapy. Surprisingly, metformin did not result in any improvement in time to biochemical failure, time to metastases or overall survival in men undergoing radiotherapy, but there was an 1.5 fold increase in PC-specific deaths (p<0.05) in men on metformin who received ADT when adjusted for cancer risk and co-morbidities. In conclusion, the results presented in this thesis indicate that HIF1α is a promising marker in PC, which may be used for early identification of cancers that potentially will progress to metastases and develop resistance to ADT. HIF1α is likely to contribute to metastasis and chemo-resistance of CRPC, targeted reduction of HIF1α may improve outcomes of aggressive PC.
ItemGastrin-mediated adaptive responses to hypoxia in colorectal cancerWestwood, David Alexander ( 2014)Over the past two decades the potential biological activities exerted by gastrin precursors on colorectal tumourigenesis have gradually widened to include mitogenesis, apoptosis resistance, stimulation of angiogenesis and promotion of cell migration and invasion. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying this plethora of biological effects are unclear. Furthermore, the interplay between gastrin precursors and the colorectal tumour microenvironment has been a relatively neglected area of gastrin research. This thesis investigates these two important areas of gastrin biology and is the first study to report that hypoxia-inducible gastrin gene expression in colorectal cancer cells mediates resistance against hypoxia-inducible cell death in vitro and in vivo and may contribute to the development of distant metastatic disease.
ItemHypoxia and angiogenesis in renal cell carcinomaLawrentschuk, Nathan Leo ( 2009)Hypoxia is one of the hallmarks of cancer. It was first postulated to occur in solid tumours by Thomlinson and Gray in 1955.1 The presence of hypoxia has been demonstrated in different types of solid tumours.2 Intratumoral hypoxia is caused by the lack of functional blood vessels in proliferating tumour tissue, resulting in low intratumoral oxygen concentrations. If hypoxia is severe or prolonged, cell death occurs.3 Malignant cells can undergo genetic and adaptive changes that allow them to escape from dying of oxygen deprivation. These changes are associated with a more aggressive malignant phenotype 4,5 conferring resistance to radiation 6,7 and chemotherapeutic agents.3,8,9 Hence hypoxia is known to be a key factor responsible for tumour resistance in humans. Invasive polarographic oxygen sensor measurements have demonstrated hypoxia in solid tumours and it is generally defined to occur at an oxygen tension less than ten mmHg.10 Perhaps of more importance is that hypoxia has been demonstrated to be a prognostic indicator for local control after treatment with radiotherapy in glioma, head and neck and cervical cancers.11-13 It has also been able to predict for survival and the presence of distant metastases in soft tissue sarcomas.14 Finally, the significance of hypoxia in the activation and induction of functional molecules such as hypoxia inducible factors (HIFs) and VEGF, the modulation of gene expression (e.g. carbonic anhydrase IX), increased proto-oncogene levels, activation of nuclear factors and accumulation of other proteins (e.g. TP53) although progressing, is yet to be defined.15,16 Thus, it is of clinical interest to understand the levels of hypoxia and numbers of hypoxic cell populations in tumours, particularly those resistant to radiation and chemotherapy. In doing so clinicians and researchers may formulate more accurate prognostic information and develop treatments targeting hypoxic cells. Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is a tumour resistant to radiation and chemotherapy that is yet to have its oxygen status investigated. Although the “gold standard” of oxygen tension measurement is the Polarographic Oxygen Sensor (POS or Eppendorf pO2 histograph), non-invasive means of measuring oxygen status via imaging, immunohistochemistry or serum tumour markers are more practical. As highlighted by Menon and Fraker, it is imperative that reliable, globally usable, and technically simplistic methods be developed to yield a consistent, comprehensive, and reliable profile of tumour oxygenation. Until newer more reliable techniques are developed, existing independent techniques or appropriate combinations of techniques should be optimized and validated using known endpoints in tumour oxygenation status and/or treatment outcomes.17 Hanahan and Weinberg 18 surmised that the field of cancer research has largely been guided by a reductionist focus on cancer cells and the genes within them- a focus that has produced an extraordinary body of knowledge. Looking forward in time, they believe that progress in cancer research would come from regarding tumours as complex tissues in which mutant cancer cells have conscripted and subverted normal cell types (endothelial cells, immune cells, fibroblasts) to serve as active collaborators in their neoplastic agenda. The interactions between the genetically altered malignant cells and these supporting coconspirators will prove critical to understanding cancer pathogenesis and to the development of novel, effective therapies.18 Essentially, the background outlined here not only highlights the core aim of this thesis: to better understand the oxygen status of renal cell carcinoma and the relationship of this to angiogenesis so that better targeted therapies may be pursued in the future; but it also places this research in the context of the future proposed by Hanahan and Weinberg,18 by clearly focusing on collaborators in the neoplastic agenda, rather than just tumour cells themselves, to better understand RCC.