The aim of this study was to compare the expression of hypoxia-inducible factor 1α and vascular endothelial growth factor in small cell lung cancer and subtypes of non-small cell lung cancer and examine their relationships with clinicopathologic factors, response to treatment and survival.
We examined samples obtained by bronchial endoscopic biopsy from 55 patients with inoperable lung cancer (16 with adenocarcinoma, 17 with squamous cell carcinoma, and 22 with small cell lung cancer). Hypoxia-inducible factor 1α and vascular endothelial growth factor were detected using immunohistochemistry. The diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up of patients were conducted according to the standard practice.
A significant difference (p = 0.022) in hypoxia-inducible factor 1α expression was observed between non-small cell lung cancer (75.8% positive) and small cell lung cancer (45.5% positive). The frequency of hypoxia-inducible factor 1α nuclear expression was 88.2% in squamous cell carcinoma, 62.5% in adenocarcinoma, and 45.5% in small cell lung cancer. A significant correlation was observed between hypoxia-inducible factor 1α and vascular endothelial growth factor expression (Fisher's exact test, p = 0.001) when all types of lung cancer were examined, either collectively or separately.
The expression of hypoxia-inducible factor-1α differs significantly between subtypes of lung cancer. These findings could help elucidate the biology of the different types of non-operable lung carcinomas and have implications for the design of new therapeutic approaches for lung cancer.