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      Targeting hypoxic response for cancer therapy

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          Abstract

          Hypoxic tumor microenvironment (HTM) is considered to promote metabolic changes, oncogene activation and epithelial mesenchymal transition, and resistance to chemo- and radio-therapy, all of which are hallmarks of aggressive tumor behavior. Cancer cells within the HTM acquire phenotypic properties that allow them to overcome the lack of energy and nutrients supply within this niche. These phenotypic properties include activation of genes regulating glycolysis, glucose transport, acidosis regulators, angiogenesis, all of which are orchestrated through the activation of the transcription factor, HIF1A, which is an independent marker of poor prognosis. Moreover, during the adaptation to a HTM cancer cells undergo deep changes in mitochondrial functions such as “Warburg effect” and the “reverse Warburg effect”.

          This review aims to provide an overview of the characteristics of the HTM, with particular focus on novel therapeutic strategies currently in clinical trials, targeting the adaptive response to hypoxia of cancer cells.

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          Most cited references 106

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          Overexpression of hypoxia-inducible factor 1alpha in common human cancers and their metastases.

          Neovascularization and increased glycolysis, two universal characteristics of solid tumors, represent adaptations to a hypoxic microenvironment that are correlated with tumor invasion, metastasis, and lethality. Hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1) activates transcription of genes encoding glucose transporters, glycolytic enzymes, and vascular endothelial growth factor. HIF-1 transcriptional activity is determined by regulated expression of the HIF-1alpha subunit. In this study, HIF-1alpha expression was analyzed by immunohistochemistry in 179 tumor specimens. HIF-1alpha was overexpressed in 13 of 19 tumor types compared with the respective normal tissues, including colon, breast, gastric, lung, skin, ovarian, pancreatic, prostate, and renal carcinomas. HIF-1alpha expression was correlated with aberrant p53 accumulation and cell proliferation. Preneoplastic lesions in breast, colon, and prostate overexpressed HIF-1alpha, whereas benign tumors in breast and uterus did not. HIF-1alpha overexpression was detected in only 29% of primary breast cancers but in 69% of breast cancer metastases. In brain tumors, HIF-1alpha immunohistochemistry demarcated areas of angiogenesis. These results provide the first clinical data indicating that HIF-1alpha may play an important role in human cancer progression.
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            Cycling hypoxia and free radicals regulate angiogenesis and radiotherapy response.

            Hypoxia and free radicals, such as reactive oxygen and nitrogen species, can alter the function and/or activity of the transcription factor hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF1). Interplay between free radicals, hypoxia and HIF1 activity is complex and can influence the earliest stages of tumour development. The hypoxic environment of tumours is heterogeneous, both spatially and temporally, and can change in response to cytotoxic therapy. Free radicals created by hypoxia, hypoxia-reoxygenation cycling and immune cell infiltration after cytotoxic therapy strongly influence HIF1 activity. HIF1 can then promote endothelial and tumour cell survival. As discussed here, a constant theme emerges: inhibition of HIF1 activity will have therapeutic benefit.
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              The reverse Warburg effect: aerobic glycolysis in cancer associated fibroblasts and the tumor stroma.

              Here, we propose a new model for understanding the Warburg effect in tumor metabolism. Our hypothesis is that epithelial cancer cells induce the Warburg effect (aerobic glycolysis) in neighboring stromal fibroblasts. These cancer-associated fibroblasts, then undergo myo-fibroblastic differentiation, and secrete lactate and pyruvate (energy metabolites resulting from aerobic glycolysis). Epithelial cancer cells could then take up these energy-rich metabolites and use them in the mitochondrial TCA cycle, thereby promoting efficient energy production (ATP generation via oxidative phosphorylation), resulting in a higher proliferative capacity. In this alternative model of tumorigenesis, the epithelial cancer cells instruct the normal stroma to transform into a wound-healing stroma, providing the necessary energy-rich micro-environment for facilitating tumor growth and angiogenesis. In essence, the fibroblastic tumor stroma would directly feed the epithelial cancer cells, in a type of host-parasite relationship. We have termed this new idea the "Reverse Warburg Effect." In this scenario, the epithelial tumor cells "corrupt" the normal stroma, turning it into a factory for the production of energy-rich metabolites. This alternative model is still consistent with Warburg's original observation that tumors show a metabolic shift towards aerobic glycolysis. In support of this idea, unbiased proteomic analysis and transcriptional profiling of a new model of cancer-associated fibroblasts (caveolin-1 (Cav-1) deficient stromal cells), shows the upregulation of both (1) myo-fibroblast markers and (2) glycolytic enzymes, under normoxic conditions. We validated the expression of these proteins in the fibroblastic stroma of human breast cancer tissues that lack stromal Cav-1. Importantly, a loss of stromal Cav-1 in human breast cancers is associated with tumor recurrence, metastasis, and poor clinical outcome. Thus, an absence of stromal Cav-1 may be a biomarker for the "Reverse Warburg Effect," explaining its powerful predictive value.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Oncotarget
                Oncotarget
                Oncotarget
                ImpactJ
                Oncotarget
                Impact Journals LLC
                1949-2553
                22 March 2016
                7 February 2016
                : 7
                : 12
                : 13464-13478
                Affiliations
                1 Genetics-Department of Biology, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy
                2 School of Environment and Life Sciences, College of Science and Technology, Cockcroft Building, University of Salford, Salford, UK
                3 Department of Integrative Oncology, BC Cancer Research Centre, BC Cancer Agency and Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Life Sciences Institute, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
                Author notes
                [*]

                Senior authors

                Correspondence to: Elisa Paolicchi, elisa.paolicchi@ 123456for.unipi.it
                Article
                7229
                10.18632/oncotarget.7229
                4924654
                26859576
                Copyright: © 2016 Paolicchi et al.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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