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J Mol Med (Berl). 2002 Sep;80(9):562-75. Epub 2002 Jun 21.

A role for hypoxia and hypoxia-inducible transcription factors in tumor physiology.

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Edinger Institute, Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Deutschordenstrasse 46, 60528 Frankfurt, Germany.


Cumulative acquisition of genetic alterations affecting oncogenes or tumor suppressor genes may select for tumor cell clones with enhanced proliferation and survival potential. As a result oxygen and nutrient consumption increases, leading to a tumor microenvironment characterized by low oxygen tension, low glucose levels, and an acidic pH. Hypoxia-inducible transcription factors (HIF) are activated in response to hypoxia, apparently via reduced activity of the recently identified class of 2-oxoglutarate dependent oxygenases, as well as various tumor specific genetic alterations. A widespread HIF activation can be observed in a variety of malignant tumors. The HIF system induces adaptive responses including angiogenesis, glycolysis, and pH regulation which confer increased resistance towards the hostile tumor microenvironment. Apart from protumorigenic the wide-ranging HIF pathway may also have antitumorigenic components, which might, however, be counteracted by specific genetic mechanisms. Thus mounting evidence suggests that the HIF system plays a decisive role in tumor physiology and progression. Moreover, recent insight into this pathway has opened novel and potentially selective therapeutic approaches.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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