Research Papers:

Crosstalk between the HIF-1 and Toll-like receptor/nuclear factor-κB pathways in the oral squamous cell carcinoma microenvironment

Shengwei Han, Wenguang Xu, Zhiyong Wang, Xiaofeng Qi, Yufeng Wang, Yanhong Ni, Hao Shen, Qingang Hu and Wei Han _

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:37773-37789. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.9329

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Shengwei Han1,2, Wenguang Xu1,2, Zhiyong Wang1,2, Xiaofeng Qi1,2, Yufeng Wang1,2, Yanhong Ni2, Hao Shen1,2, Qingang Hu1,2, Wei Han1,2

1Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Nanjing Stomatological Hospital, Medical School of Nanjing University, Nanjing, P.R. China

2Central Laboratory of Stomatology, Nanjing Stomatological Hospital, Medical School of Nanjing University, Nanjing, P.R. China

Correspondence to:

Wei Han, email: [email protected]

Qingang Hu, email: [email protected]

Keywords: oral squamous cell carcinoma, HIF-1, TLR, NF-κB, tumor microenvironment

Received: November 19, 2015     Accepted: April 28, 2016     Published: May 12, 2016


Hypoxia is a prominent feature of the microenvironment of solid tumors and may contribute to tumor progression through the oxygen-sensitive transcriptional regulator hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1). Chronic inflammation is another typical feature. Inflammatory mediators, including Toll-like receptors (TLRs) and nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB), play an important role in cancer development. Recent studies have revealed extensive cross-talk between hypoxia and inflammation signaling, though the mechanisms remain unclear. Our results confirm that TLR3 and TLR4 are highly expressed in oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC). Activation of TLR3 and TLR4 stimulated the expression of HIF-1 through NF-κB. In addition, HIF-1 increased the expression of TLR3 and TLR4 through direct promoter binding. Thus, the TLR/NF-κB pathway forms a positive feedback loop with HIF-1. These results indicate a novel cross-talk between the TLR/NF-κB and HIF-1 signaling, which may contribute to OSCC initiation and progression. With the elucidation of this novel mechanism, it might serve as a basis for future microenvironment targeted cancer therapy.

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