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Nat Rev Cancer. 2008 Mar;8(3):180-92. doi: 10.1038/nrc2344.

Hypoxia and metabolism. Hypoxia, DNA repair and genetic instability.

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Departments of Medical Biophysics and Radiation Oncology, University of Toronto and Ontario Cancer Institute and Princess Margaret Hospital (University Health Network), 610 University Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, M5G2M9, Canada.


Areas of hypoxic tumour tissue are known to be resistant to treatment and are associated with a poor clinical prognosis. There are several reasons why this might be, including the capacity of hypoxia to drive genomic instability and alter DNA damage repair pathways. Significantly, current models fail to distinguish between the complexities of the hypoxic microenvironment and the biological effects of acute hypoxia exposures versus longer-term, chronic hypoxia exposures on the transcription and translation of proteins involved in genetic stability and cell survival. Acute and chronic hypoxia might lead to different biology within the tumour and this might have a direct effect on the design of new therapies for the treatment of hypoxic tumours.

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