Hypoxia-Driven Immune Escape in the Tumor Microenvironment

Cells. 2020 Apr 16;9(4):992. doi: 10.3390/cells9040992.


The tumor microenvironment is a complex ecosystem comprised of many different cell types, abnormal vasculature and immunosuppressive cytokines. The irregular growth kinetics with which tumors grow leads to increased oxygen consumption and, in turn, hypoxic conditions. Hypoxia has been associated with poor clinical outcome, increased tumor heterogeneity, emergence of resistant clones and evasion of immune detection. Additionally, hypoxia-driven cell death pathways have traditionally been thought of as tolerogenic processes. However, as researchers working in the field of immunotherapy continue to investigate and unveil new types of immunogenic cell death (ICD), it has become clear that, in some instances, hypoxia may actually induce ICD within a tumor. In this review, we will discuss hypoxia-driven immune escape that drives poor prognostic outcomes, the ability of hypoxia to induce ICD and potential therapeutic targets amongst hypoxia pathways.

Keywords: hypoxia; immunogenic cell death; therapeutics; tumor microenvironment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Cell Death / immunology*
  • Cell Hypoxia*
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy / methods*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Tumor Microenvironment / immunology*


  • Transcription Factors

Grant support