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Cancer Lett. 2006 Oct 28;242(2):231-8. Epub 2006 Jan 19.

Hypoxia confers protection against apoptosis via PI3K/Akt and ERK pathways in lung cancer cells.

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Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul 110-799, South Korea.


Hypoxia confers protection against apoptosis in cancer cells, and this hypoxia-induced resistance to apoptosis has been suggested to be associated with genetic and adaptive changes. However, it is not clear whether survival signals, such as the PI3K/Akt and ERK pathways are involved. We investigated the roles of these pathways in hypoxia-induced protection against apoptosis in lung cancer cells. Treatment of cells with either ultraviolet (UV) or etoposide induced apoptosis time-dependently in A549 and NCI-H157 cells. However, though hypoxia alone neither induced apoptosis nor reduced cell survival, it suppressed the apoptosis induced by UV or etoposide. Moreover, hypoxia activated the PI3K/Akt and ERK pathways, and blocking the activation of either pathway reversed resistance to UV- and etoposide-induced apoptosis in response to hypoxia. These results suggest that hypoxia confers resistance to UV- or etoposide-mediated apoptosis in lung cancer cells via the activations of the PI3K/Akt and the ERK pathways.

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