Purpose of review: In this review, the importance of the hypoxia inducible factor (HIF) pathway in tumorigenesis and cancer treatment outcomes will be discussed. The outcomes of phase II and III clinical trials of direct HIF inhibitors in the treatment of cancer will be reviewed.
Recent findings: The HIF signaling pathway is activated by tumor-induced hypoxia or by inactivating mutations of the VHL gene. HIF is a transcription factor which regulates the expression of genes involved in adjusting mechanisms to hypoxia such as angiogenesis or apoptosis as well as tumor growth, invasion, and metastasis. The HIF pathway has a key role in development of resistance to different treatment modalities and higher expression of the HIF molecule is associated with poor prognosis. Clinical studies of the HIF inhibitors in patients with advanced/refractory cancers suggest benefit and warrant further studies of the HIF inhibitors either as a single agent or in combination with other therapeutic agents.
Keywords: HIF; HIF inhibitor; Hypoxia inducible factor; Renal cell carcinoma; VEGF; VHL.