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 of escape mechanisms. This Review discusses the pathophysiological role of HIFs, angiogenesis, and metabolism in breast cancer and the challenges of targeting these features in patients with breast cancer. 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
Hypoxia/HIF-1α– and extracellular adenosine/A2 adenosine receptor–mediated immunosuppression protects tissues from collateral damage by antipathogen immune cells. However, this mechanism also protects cancerous tissues by inhibiting antitumor immune cells in hypoxic and extracellular adenosine–rich tumors that are the most resistant to current therapies. Here, we explain a potentially novel, antiimmunosuppressive reasoning to justify strategies using respiratory hyperoxia and oxygenation agents in cancer treatment. Earlier attempts to use oxygenation of tumors as a monotherapy or to improve radiotherapy have failed because oxygenation protocols were not combined with immunotherapies of cancer. In contrast, the proposal for therapeutic use of antihypoxic oxygenation described here was motivated by the need to prevent the hypoxia/HIF-1α–driven accumulation of extracellular adenosine to (a) unleash antitumor immune cells from inhibition by intracellular cAMP and (b) prevent immunosuppressive transcription of cAMP response element– and hypoxia response element–containing immunosuppressive gene products (e.g., TGF-β). Use of oxygenation agents together with inhibitors of the A2A adenosine receptor may be required to enable the most effective cancer immunotherapy. The emerging outcomes of clinical trials of cancer patients refractory to all other treatments provide support for the molecular and immunological mechanism–based approach to cancer immunotherapy described here.
Stephen M. Hatfield, Michail V. Sitkovsky
Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is characterized by pulmonary artery remodeling that can subsequently culminate in right heart failure and premature death. Emerging evidence suggests that hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) signaling plays a fundamental and pivotal role in the pathogenesis of PH. This Review summarizes the regulation of HIF isoforms and their impact in various PH subtypes, as well as the elaborate conditional and cell-specific knockout mouse studies that brought the role of this pathway to light. We also discuss the current preclinical status of pan- and isoform-selective HIF inhibitors, and propose new research areas that may facilitate HIF isoform-specific inhibition as a novel therapeutic strategy for PH and right heart failure.
Soni Savai Pullamsetti, Argen Mamazhakypov, Norbert Weissmann, Werner Seeger, Rajkumar Savai
The liver has strong innate immunity to counteract pathogens from the gastrointestinal tract. During the development of liver cancer, which is typically driven by chronic inflammation, the composition and biological roles of the innate immune cells are extensively altered. Hypoxia is a common finding in all stages of liver cancer development. Hypoxia drives the stabilization of hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs), which act as central regulators to dampen the innate immunity of liver cancer. HIF signaling in innate immune cells and liver cancer cells together favors the recruitment and maintenance of pro-tumorigenic immune cells and the inhibition of anti-tumorigenic immune cells, promoting immune evasion. HIFs represent attractive therapeutic targets to inhibit the formation of an immunosuppressive microenvironment and growth of liver cancer.
Vincent Wai-Hin Yuen, Carmen Chak-Lui Wong
Hypoxia can be defined as a relative deficiency in the amount of oxygen reaching the tissues. Hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs) are critical regulators of the mammalian response to hypoxia. In normal circumstances, HIF-1α protein turnover is rapid, and hyperglycemia further destabilizes the protein. In addition to their role in diabetes pathogenesis, HIFs are implicated in development of the microvascular and macrovascular complications of diabetes. Improving glucose control in people with diabetes increases HIF-1α protein and has wide-ranging benefits, some of which are at least partially mediated by HIF-1α. Nevertheless, most strategies to improve diabetes or its complications via regulation of HIF-1α have not currently proven to be clinically useful. The intersection of HIF biology with diabetes is a complex area in which many further questions remain, especially regarding the well-conducted studies clearly describing discrepant effects of different methods of increasing HIF-1α, even within the same tissues. This Review presents a brief overview of HIFs; discusses the range of evidence implicating HIFs in β cell dysfunction, diabetes pathogenesis, and diabetes complications; and examines the differing outcomes of HIF-targeting approaches in these conditions.
Jenny E. Gunton
Intermittent hypoxia (IH) is a hallmark manifestation of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a widespread disorder of breathing. This Review focuses on the role of hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs) in hypertension, type 2 diabetes (T2D), and cognitive decline in experimental models of IH patterned after O2 profiles seen in OSA. IH increases HIF-1α and decreases HIF-2α protein levels. Dysregulated HIFs increase reactive oxygen species (ROS) through HIF-1–dependent activation of pro-oxidant enzyme genes in addition to reduced transcription of antioxidant genes by HIF-2. ROS in turn activate chemoreflex and suppress baroreflex, thereby stimulating the sympathetic nervous system and causing hypertension. We also discuss how increased ROS generation by HIF-1 contributes to IH-induced insulin resistance and T2D as well as disrupted NMDA receptor signaling in the hippocampus, resulting in cognitive decline.
Nanduri R. Prabhakar, Ying-Jie Peng, Jayasri Nanduri
The state of latency occurs when a microbe’s persistence in a host produces host damage without perturbing homeostasis sufficiently to cause clinical symptoms or disease. The mechanisms contributing to latency are diverse and depend on the nature of both the microbe and the host. Latency has advantages for both host and microbe. The host avoids progressive damage caused by interaction with the microbe that may translate into disease, and the microbe secures a stable niche in which to survive. Latency is clinically important because some latent microbes can be transmitted to other hosts, and it is associated with a risk for recrudescent microbial growth and development of disease. In addition, it can predispose the host to other diseases, such as malignancies. Hence, latency is a temporally unstable state with an eventual outcome that mainly depends on host immunity. Latency is an integral part of the pathogenic strategies of microbes that require human (and/or mammalian) hosts, including herpesviruses, retroviruses, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and Toxoplasma gondii. However, latency is also an outcome of infection with environmental organisms such as Cryptococcus neoformans, which require no host in their replicative cycles. For most microbes that achieve latency, there is a need for a better understanding and more investigation of host and microbial mechanisms that result in this state.
Liise-anne Pirofski, Arturo Casadevall
Although antiretroviral therapies (ARTs) potently inhibit HIV replication, they do not eradicate the virus. HIV persists in cellular and anatomical reservoirs that show minimal decay during ART. A large number of studies conducted during the past 20 years have shown that HIV persists in a small pool of cells harboring integrated and replication-competent viral genomes. The majority of these cells do not produce viral particles and constitute what is referred to as the latent reservoir of HIV infection. Therefore, although HIV is not considered as a typical latent virus, it can establish a state of nonproductive infection under rare circumstances, particularly in memory CD4+ T cells, which represent the main barrier to HIV eradication. While it was originally thought that the pool of latently infected cells was largely composed of cells harboring transcriptionally silent genomes, recent evidence indicates that several blocks contribute to the nonproductive state of these cells. Here, we describe the virological and immunological factors that play a role in the establishment and persistence of the pool of latently infected cells and review the current approaches aimed at eliminating the latent HIV reservoir.
Caroline Dufour, Pierre Gantner, Rémi Fromentin, Nicolas Chomont
Toxoplasma gondii is an incredibly successful parasite owing in part to its ability to persist within cells for the life of the host. Remarkably, at least 350 host species of T. gondii have been described to date, and it is estimated that 30% of the global human population is chronically infected. The importance of T. gondii in human health was made clear with the first reports of congenital toxoplasmosis in the 1940s. However, the AIDS crisis in the 1980s revealed the prevalence of chronic infection, as patients presented with reactivated chronic toxoplasmosis, underscoring the importance of an intact immune system for parasite control. In the last 40 years, there has been tremendous progress toward understanding the biology of T. gondii infection using rodent models, human cell experimental systems, and clinical data. However, there are still major holes in our understanding of T. gondii biology, including the genes controlling parasite development, the mechanisms of cell-intrinsic immunity to T. gondii in the brain and muscle, and the long-term effects of infection on host homeostasis. The need to better understand the biology of chronic infection is underscored by the recent rise in ocular disease associated with emerging haplotypes of T. gondii and our lack of effective treatments to sterilize chronic infection. This Review discusses the cell types and molecular mediators, both host and parasite, that facilitate persistent T. gondii infection. We highlight the consequences of chronic infection for tissue-specific pathology and identify open questions in this area of host-Toxoplasma interactions.
Xiao-Yu Zhao, Sarah E. Ewald
Cryptococcus neoformans is an opportunistic yeast that is present worldwide and interacts with various organisms. In humans, it is responsible for cryptococcosis, a deadly invasive fungal infection that represents around 220,000 cases per year worldwide. Starting from the natural history of the disease in humans, there is accumulating evidence on the capacity of this organism to enter dormancy. In response to the harsh host environment, the yeast is able to adapt dramatically and escape the vigilance of the host’s immune cells to survive. Indeed, the yeast exposed to the host takes on pleiotropic phenotypes, enabling the generation of populations in heterogeneous states, including dormancy, to eventually survive at low metabolic cost and revive in favorable conditions. The concept of dormancy has been validated in C. neoformans from both epidemiological and genotyping data, and more recently from the biological point of view with the characterization of dormancy through the description of viable but nonculturable cells.
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