Expression of hypoxia-inducible carbonic anhydrases in brain tumors

Neuro Oncol. 2005 Oct;7(4):465-75. doi: 10.1215/S1152851705000025.


Malignant brain tumors exhibit distinct metabolic characteristics. Despite high levels of lactate, the intracellular pH of brain tumors is more alkaline than normal brain. Additionally, with increasing malignancy, brain tumors display intratumoral hypoxia. Carbonic anhydrase (CA) IX and XII are transmembrane isoenzymes that are induced by tissue hypoxia. They participate in regulation of pH homeostasis by catalyzing the reversible hydration of carbon dioxide. The aim of our study was to investigate whether brain tumors of different histology and grade of malignancy express elevated levels of CA IX and XII as compared to normal brain. We analyzed 120 tissue specimens from brain tumors (primary and metastatic) and normal brain for CA IX and XII expression by immunohistochemistry, Western blot, and in situ hybridization. Whereas normal brain tissue showed minimal levels of CA IX and XII expression, expression in tumors was found to be upregulated with increased level of malignancy. Hemangioblastomas, from patients with von Hippel-Lindau disease, also displayed high levels of CA IX and XII expression. Comparison of CA IX and XII staining with HIF-1alpha staining revealed a similar microanatomical distribution, indicating hypoxia as a major, but not the only, induction factor. The extent of CA IX and XII staining correlated with cell proliferation, as indicated by Ki67 labeling. The results demonstrate that CA IX and XII are upregulated in intrinsic and metastatic brain tumors as compared to normal brain tissue. This may contribute to the management of tumor-specific acid load and provide a therapeutic target.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Blotting, Western
  • Brain Neoplasms / enzymology*
  • Carbonic Anhydrases / biosynthesis*
  • Hemangioblastoma / enzymology
  • Hemangioblastoma / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • von Hippel-Lindau Disease / complications


  • Carbonic Anhydrases