Hypoxia-inducible factors: Mediators of cancer progression and targets for cancer therapy
Hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs) mediate adaptive physiological responses to hypoxia. In human cancers that are accessible for O(2) electrode measurements, intratumoral hypoxia is common and severe hypoxia is associated with increased risk of mortality. HIF activity in regions of intratumoral hypoxia mediates angiogenesis, epithelial-mesenchymal transition, stem-cell maintenance, invasion, metastasis, and resistance to radiation therapy and chemotherapy. A growing number of drugs have been identified that inhibit HIF activity by a variety of molecular mechanisms. Because many of these drugs are already FDA-approved for other indications, clinical trials can (and should) be initiated to test the hypothesis that incorporation of HIF inhibitors into current standard-of-care therapy will increase the survival of cancer patients.