The hypoxia signalling pathway in haematological malignancies

Marta Irigoyen _, Juan Carlos García-Ruiz and Edurne Berra

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:36832-36844. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.15981

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Marta Irigoyen1, Juan Carlos García-Ruiz2 and Edurne Berra1

1 Centro de Investigación Cooperativa en Biociencias CIC bioGUNE, Derio, Spain

2 Servicio de Hematología y Hemoterapia, BioCruces Health Research Institute, Hospital Universitario Cruces, Barakaldo, Spain

Correspondence to:

Marta Irigoyen, email:

Edurne Berra, email:

Keywords: hypoxia, hypoxia-inducible factors, haematological cancers, cancer stem cells, resistance

Received: December 15, 2016 Accepted: February 27, 2017 Published: March 07, 2017


Haematological malignancies are tumours that affect the haematopoietic and the lymphatic systems. Despite the huge efforts to eradicate these tumours, the percentage of patients suffering resistance to therapies and relapse still remains significant. The tumour environment favours drug resistance of cancer cells, and particularly of cancer stem/initiating cells. Hypoxia promotes aggressiveness, metastatic spread and relapse in most of the solid tumours. Furthermore, hypoxia is associated with worse prognosis and resistance to conventional treatments through activation of the hypoxia-inducible factors. Haematological malignancies are not considered solid tumours, and therefore, the role of hypoxia in these diseases was initially presumed to be inconsequential. However, hypoxia is a hallmark of the haematopoietic niche. Here, we will review the current understanding of the role of both hypoxia and hypoxia-inducible factors in different haematological tumours.

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