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Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2014 Nov;397(1-2):51-8. doi: 10.1016/j.mce.2014.08.001. Epub 2014 Aug 15.

Oxygen sensing and metabolic homeostasis.

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Department of Internal Medicine, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas, USA. Electronic address:
Biomedical Research, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Beverly Hills, California, USA.


Oxygen-sensing mechanisms have evolved to maintain cell and tissue homeostasis since the ability to sense and respond to changes in oxygen is essential for survival. The primary site of oxygen sensing occurs at the level of the carotid body which in response to hypoxia signals increased ventilation without the need for new protein synthesis. Chronic hypoxia activates cellular sensing mechanisms which lead to protein synthesis designed to alter cellular metabolism so cells can adapt to the low oxygen environment without suffering toxicity. The master regulator of the cellular response is hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF). Activation of this system under condition of hypobaric hypoxia leads to weight loss accompanied by increased basal metabolic rate and suppression of appetite. These effects are dose dependent, gender and genetic specific, and results in adverse effects if the exposure is extreme. Hypoxic adipose tissue may represent a unified cellular mechanism for variety of metabolic disorders, and insulin resistance in patients with metabolic syndrome.


Adipose tissue; Hypobaric hypoxia; Hypoxia inducible factor (HIF); Oxygen sensing; Sexual dimorphism; Warburg effect

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