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REVIEW: HIF-Dependent Mechanisms of Relationship between Hypoxia Tolerance and Tumor Development

Dzhuliia Sh. Dzhalilova1,a* and Olga V. Makarova1

1Federal State Budgetary Institution “Research Institute of Human Morphology”, 117418 Moscow, Russia

* To whom correspondence should be addressed.

Received March 1, 2021; Revised July 2, 2021; Accepted July 14, 2021
Oxygen deficiency is one of the key pathogenetic factors determining development and severity of many diseases, including inflammatory, infectious diseases, and cancer. Lack of oxygen activates the signaling pathway of the hypoxia-inducible transcription factor HIF in cells that has three isoforms, HIF-1, HIF-2, HIF-3, regulating expression of several thousand genes. Throughout tumor progression, HIF activation stimulates angiogenesis, promotes changes in cell metabolism, adhesion, invasiveness, and ability to metastasize. HIF isoforms can play opposite roles in the development of inflammatory and neoplastic processes. Humans and laboratory animals differ both in tolerance to hypoxia and in the levels of expression of HIF and HIF-dependent genes, which may lead to predisposition to the development of certain oncological disorders. In particular, the ratio of different histogenetic types of tumors may vary among people living in the mountains and at the sea level. However, despite the key role of hypoxia at almost all stages of tumor development, basal tolerance to oxygen deficiency is not considered as a factor of predisposition to the tumor growth initiation. In literature, there are many works characterizing the level of local hypoxia in various tumors, and suggesting fundamental approaches to its mitigation by HIF inhibition. HIF inhibitors, as a rule, have a systemic effect on the organism, however, basal tolerance of an organism to hypoxia as well as the level of HIF expression are not taken into account in the process of their use. The review summarizes the literature data on different HIF isoforms and their role in tumor progression, with extrapolation to organisms with high and low tolerance to hypoxia, as well as on the prevalence of various types of tumors in the populations living at high altitudes.
KEY WORDS: hypoxia tolerance, high altitude, tumor progression, HIF, angiogenesis

DOI: 10.1134/S0006297921100011