Changes in Tumour Morphology With Alterations in Oxygen Availability: Further Evidence for Oxygen as a Limiting Substrate

Br J Cancer. 1991 Jul;64(1):54-8. doi: 10.1038/bjc.1991.238.


The ability of cancer cells to survive at a distance from blood vessels should be dependent on the local supply of nutrients to each vessel. The corded growth of tumour cells around blood vessels within regions of necrosis in the RH carcinoma in the mouse allows the limit to which cells can be supported by individual vessels to be observed. The thickness of individual tumour cords was measured in conventionally stained tumour sections using a scanning technique to determine the distance between the blood vessel wall and the most distant viable cell adjacent to necrosis. Cord radius was found to vary with the oxygen supply conditions. Control animals had a mean radius of 105 +/- 2 microns while animals that had breathed 10% oxygen had significantly narrower cords (93 +/- 3 microns after 48 h) and animals breathing 100% oxygen had significantly wider cords (117 +/- 3 microns after 24 h). Mice made anaemic (mean hct. 28%) by phlebotomy and plasma transfusion had cord radii that were not significantly different from controls at any time up to 48 h. We conclude that this relatively slow growing mouse tumour is capable of rapid morphological adaptation (less than 3 h) to changes in nutrient availability and that oxygen is probably the limiting substrate.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anemia / physiopathology
  • Animals
  • Carcinoma / blood supply
  • Carcinoma / pathology*
  • Carcinoma / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Oxygen Consumption*
  • Regional Blood Flow