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Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2010 May;298(5):L660-9. doi: 10.1152/ajplung.00394.2009. Epub 2010 Feb 5.

Inflammatory stimulation and hypoxia cooperatively activate HIF-1{alpha} in bronchial epithelial cells: involvement of PI3K and NF-{kappa}B.

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  • 1Department of Anesthesiology, Shanghai Ninth People’s Hospital Affiliated to Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, China.


The transcription factor hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1 plays a central physiological role in oxygen and energy homeostasis, and is activated during hypoxia by stabilization of the subunit HIF-1α. Recent studies have demonstrated that non-hypoxic stimuli can also activate HIF-1α in a cell-specific manner. Here, we demonstrate that stimulation of BEAS-2B cells and primary human bronchial epithelial cells by proinflammatory cytokines TNFα/IL-4 strongly induced expression and transcriptional activity of HIF-1α under normoxic conditions and amplified hypoxic HIF-1α activation. TNFα/IL-4 stimulated de novo HIF-1α gene transcription and translation rather than affected HIF-1α protein degradation and mRNA decay process. The activation of HIF-1α by TNFα/IL-4 was countered by the phosphoinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) inhibitor LY-294002 and rapamycin, an antagonist of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), but not by inhibition of the MAPK pathway. In line, TNFα/IL-4 also activated NF-κB, whereas blocking of NF-κB by an inhibitor or silencing NF-κB subunit p65 attenuated HIF-1α activation by TNFα/IL-4. We also found the collaborative induction of VEGF, a potent angiogenic factor required for airway remodeling, by TNFα/IL-4 and hypoxia partially via HIF-1α pathway in BEAS-2B cells. This study reports the previously unsuspected collaborative regulation of HIF-1α by TNFα/IL-4 and hypoxia in bronchial epithelial cells partially via PI3K-mTOR and NF-κB pathway, and thereby will lead to the elucidation of the importance of HIF-1 in integrating inflammatory and hypoxic response in the pathogenesis of airway diseases.

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