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J Neurochem. 2009 Mar;108(5):1309-21. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.2009.05877.x. Epub 2009 Jan 29.

Specific inhibition of hypoxia inducible factor 1 exaggerates cell injury induced by in vitro ischemia through deteriorating cellular redox environment.

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University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, Albuquerque, USA.


Hypoxia inducible factor 1 (HIF-1) has been suggested to play a critical role in the fate of cells exposed to hypoxic stress. However, the mechanism of HIF-1-regulated cell survival is still not fully understood in ischemic conditions. Redox status is critical for decisions of cell survival, death and differentiation. We investigated the effects of inhibiting HIF-1 on cellular redox status in SH-SY5Y cells exposed to hypoxia or oxygen and glucose deprivation (OGD), coupled with cell death analyses. Our results demonstrated that inhibiting HIF-1alpha expression by HIF-1alpha specific small interfering RNA (siRNA) transfection increased reactive oxygen species generation, and transformed the cells to more oxidizing environments (low GSH/GSSG ratio, low NADPH level) under either hypoxic or OGD exposure. Cell death increased dramatically in the siRNA transfected cells, compared to non-transfected cells after hypoxic/OGD exposures. In contrast, increasing HIF-1alpha expression by desferrioxamine, a metal chelator and hydroxylase inhibitor, induced a more reducing environment (high GSH/GSSG ratio, high NADPH level) and reduced cell death. Further studies showed that HIF-1 regulated not only glucose transporter-1 expression, but also the key enzymes of the pentose phosphate pathway such as glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase and 6-phosphogluconate dehydrogenase. These enzymes are important in maintaining cellular redox homeostasis by generating NADPH, the primary reducing agent in cells. Moreover, catalase significantly decreased cell death in the siRNA-transfected cells induced by hypoxia and OGD. These results suggest that maintenance of cellular redox status by HIF-1 protects cells from hypoxia and ischemia mediated injuries.

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