Chronic gastrointestinal ischemia (CGI) is the result of decreased mucosal perfusion. Typical histological characteristics are lacking which hamper its early diagnosis. Hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) is expressed under acute hypoxia. We investigated HIF-1α expression in chronic ischemic and inflammatory conditions of the human gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Immunohistochemical expression of HIF-1α was analyzed in 61 patients, including patients with CGI, Helicobacter pylori gastritis, ischemic colitis (IC), infectious colitis, and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and 22 controls. HIF-1α expression in >10 % of the cells was regarded as positive staining, and expression <10 % of the cells was considered as negative staining. In the upper GI tract, HIF-1α expression was found in 5/20 CGI patients, but not in controls (p = 0.08). The sensitivity and specificity of HIF-1α expression for diagnosing CGI were 25 and 84 %, respectively. In the lower GI tract, HIF-1α was expressed in all patients with IC and infectious colitis and in a majority of IBD patients as well as in 7/12 controls. The sensitivity and specificity of HIF-1α for diagnosing IC were 100 and 51 %, respectively. HIF-1α expression was more often (p = 0.02) observed in patients with histological signs of inflammation in the lower GI tract. HIF-1α is expressed in acute and chronic ischemic tissue, but also in normal colon tissue and inflammatory disorders.

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Virchows Archiv
Department of Internal Medicine

Harki, J, Sana, A, Leemreis - van Noord, D, van Diest, P.J, van der Groep, P, Kuipers, E.J, … Tjwa, E.T.T.L. (2014). Hypoxia-inducible factor 1-α in chronic gastrointestinal ischemia. Virchows Archiv, 466(2), 125–132. doi:10.1007/s00428-014-1691-6