, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp 26-35

Hypoxic preconditioning protects against ischemic brain injury

Summary

Animals exposed to brief periods of moderate hypoxia (8% to 10% oxygen for 3 hours) are protected against cerebral and cardiac ischemia between 1 and 2 days later. This hypoxia preconditioning requires new RNA and protein synthesis. The mechanism of this hypoxia-induced tolerance correlates with the induction of the hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF), a transcription factor heterodimeric complex composed of inducible HIF-1α and constitutive HIF-1β proteins that bind to the hypoxia response elements in a number of HIF target genes. Our recent studies show that HIF-1α correlates with hypoxia induced tolerance in neonatal rat brain. HIF target genes, also induced following hypoxia-induced tolerance, include vascular endothelial growth factor, erythropoietin, glucose transporters, glycolytic enzymes, and many other genes. Some or all of these genes may contribute to hypoxia-induced protection against ischemia. HIF induction of the glycolytic enzymes accounts in part for the Pasteur effect in brain and other tissues. Hypoxia-induced tolerance is not likely to be equivalent to treatment with a single HIF target gene protein since other transcription factors including Egr-1 (NGFI-A) have been implicated in hypoxia regulation of gene expression. Understanding the mechanisms and genes involved in hypoxic tolerance may provide new therapeutic targets to treat ischemic injury and enhance recovery.