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Evaluation of changes in the tumor microenvironment after sorafenib therapy by sequential histology and 18F-fluoromisonidazole hypoxia imaging in renal cell carcinoma

International Journal of Oncology
Spandidos Publications
Publication Date
DOI: 10.3892/ijo.2012.1624
  • Articles
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Medicine


The mechanistic dissociation of ‘tumor starvation’ versus ‘vascular normalization’ following anti-angiogenic therapy is a subject of intense controversy in the field of experimental research. In addition, accurately evaluating changes of the tumor microenvironment after anti-angiogenic therapy is important for optimizing treatment strategy. Sorafenib has considerable anti-angiogenic effects that lead to tumor starvation and induce tumor hypoxia in the highly vascularized renal cell carcinoma (RCC) xenografts. 18F-fluoromisonidazole (18F-FMISO) is a proven hypoxia imaging probe. Thus, to clarify early changes in the tumor microenvironment following anti-angiogenic therapy and whether 18F-FMISO imaging can detect those changes, we evaluated early changes in the tumor microenvironment after sorafenib treatment in an RCC xenograft by sequential histological analysis and 18F-FMISO autoradiography (ARG). A human RCC xenograft (A498) was established in nude mice, for histological studies and ARG, and further assigned to the control and sorafenib-treated groups (80 mg/kg, per os). Mice were sacrificed on Days 1, 2, 3 and 7 in the histological study, and on Days 3 and 7 in ARG after sorafenib treatment. Tumor volume was measured every day. 18F-FMISO and pimonidazole were injected intravenously 4 and 2 h before sacrifice, respectively. Tumor sections were stained with hematoxylin and eosin and immunohistochemically with pimonidazole and CD31. Intratumoral 18F-FMISO distribution was quantified in ARG. Tumor volume did not significantly change on Day 7 after sorafenib treatment. In the histological study, hypoxic fraction significantly increased on Day 2, mean vessel density significantly decreased on Day 1 and necrosis area significantly increased on Day 2 after sorafenib treatment. Intratumoral 18F-FMISO distribution significantly increased on Days 3 (10.2-fold, p<0.01) and 7 (4.1-fold, p<0.01) after sorafenib treatment. The sequential histological evaluation of the tumor microenvironment clarified tumor starvation in A498 xenografts treated with sorafenib. 18F-FMISO hypoxia imaging confirmed the tumor starvation. 18F-FMISO PET may contribute to determine an optimum treatment protocol after anti-angiogenic therapy.

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