Cytotoxic T cells infiltrating tumors are thought to utilize HIF transcription factors during adaptation to the hypoxic tumor microenvironment. Deletion analyses of the two key HIF isoforms found that HIF-1α, but not HIF-2α, was essential for the effector state in CD8+ T cells. Furthermore, loss of HIF-1α in CD8+ T cells reduced tumor infiltration and tumor cell killing, and altered tumor vascularization. Deletion of VEGF-A, an HIF target gene, in CD8+ T cells accelerated tumorigenesis while also altering vascularization. Analyses of human breast cancer showed inverse correlations between VEGF-A expression and CD8+ T cell infiltration, and a link between T cell infiltration and vascularization. These data demonstrate that the HIF-1α/VEGF-A axis is an essential aspect of tumor immunity.
Keywords: HIF transcription factors; VEGF; angiogenesis; cytotoxic T cells; hypoxia; immunotherapy.
Copyright © 2017 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.