Hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs) and the HIF-dependent cancer hallmarks angiogenesis and metabolic rewiring are well-established drivers of breast cancer aggressiveness, therapy resistance, and poor prognosis. Targeting of HIF and its downstream targets in angiogenesis and metabolism has been unsuccessful so far in the breast cancer clinical setting, with major unresolved challenges residing in target selection, development of robust biomarkers for response prediction, and understanding and harnessing escape mechanisms. This Review discusses the pathophysiological role of HIFs, angiogenesis, and metabolism in breast cancer and the challenges of targeting these features in breast cancer patients. Rational therapeutic combinations, especially with immunotherapy and endocrine therapy, seem most promising in the clinical exploitation of the intricate interplay of HIFs, angiogenesis, and metabolism in breast cancer cells and the tumor microenvironment.
Ellen C. de Heer, Mathilde Jalving, Adrian L. Harris