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Liver Int. 2009 Nov;29(10):1582-92. doi: 10.1111/j.1478-3231.2009.02109.x. Epub 2009 Sep 9.

Hypoxia inducible factor-1 alpha induction by tumour necrosis factor-alpha, but not by toll-like receptor agonists, modulates cellular respiration in cultured human hepatocytes.

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Department of Intensive Care Medicine, Inselspital, Bern University Hospital, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland.



Genes encoding for some of the mitochondrial proteins are under the control of the transcriptional factor hypoxia inducible factor-1 alpha (HIF-1 alpha), which can accumulate under normoxic conditions in inflammatory states. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of cobalt chloride (CoCl(2), a hypoxia mimicking agent), tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and toll-like receptor (TLR) -2, -3 and -4 agonists on HIF-1 alpha accumulation, and further on HIF-1 alpha-mediated modulation of mitochondrial respiration in cultured human hepatocytes.


The human hepatoma cell line HepG2 was used in this study. Cells were treated with CoCl(2), TNF-alpha and TLR-2, -3 and -4 agonists. HIF-1 alpha was determined by Western blotting and mitochondrial respiration in stimulated cells by high-resolution respirometry.


CoCl(2), TNF-alpha and TLR agonists induced the expression of HIF-1 alpha in a time-dependent fashion. TNF-alpha and CoCl(2), but not TLR agonists, induced a reduction in complex I-, II- and IV-dependent mitochondrial oxygen consumption. TNF-alpha-associated reduction of cellular oxygen consumption was abolished through inhibition of HIF-1 alpha activity by chetomin (CTM). Pretreatment with cyclosporine A prevented CoCl(2)-induced reduction of complex I- and II-dependent mitochondrial oxygen consumption and TNF-alpha-induced reduction of complex-I-dependent respiration, implicating the involvement of the mitochondrial permeability transition pore openings. TNF-alpha and TLR-2, -3 and -4 agonists induced the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor, which was partially abolished by the blockage of HIF-1 alpha with CTM.


The data suggest that HIF-1 alpha modulates mitochondrial respiration during CoCl(2) and TNF-alpha stimulation, whereas it has no effect when induced with TLR-2, -3 and -4 agonists.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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