Transcriptional responses to intermittent hypoxia

Jayasri Nanduri, Guoxiang Yuan, Ganesh K. Kumar, Gregg L. Semenza, Nanduri R. Prabhakar

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


Recurrent apneas are characterized by transient repetitive cessations of breathing (two breaths duration or longer) resulting in periodic decreases in arterial blood PO2 or chronic intermittent hypoxia (IH). Patients with recurrent apneas and experimental animals exposed to chronic IH exhibit cardio-respiratory morbidities. The purpose of this article is to highlight the current information on the transcriptional mechanisms associated with chronic IH. Studies on rodents and cell cultures have shown that IH activates a variety of transcription factors including the hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1), c-fos (immediate early gene), nuclear factor of activated T-cells (NFAT), and nuclear factor kB (NF-kB). The signaling pathways associated with transcriptional activation associated with IH differ from continuous hypoxia (CH). Compared to same duration and intensity of CH, IH is more potent in activating HIF-1 and c-fos and also results in long-lasting accumulation of HIF-1α and c-fos mRNA, a phenomenon that was not seen with CH. IH-evoked transcriptional activation by HIF-1, c-fos as well as the resulting activator protein-1 (AP-1) requires reactive oxygen species (ROS)-mediated signaling and involves complex feed forward interactions between HIF-1 and ROS. Chronic IH-evoked cardio-respiratory responses are absent in Hif-1a+/- mice, and hypertension elicited by chronic IH is absent in mice lacking NFAT3c. These studies indicate that cardio-respiratory responses to chronic IH depend on complex interactions between various transcription factors resulting in alterations in several down stream genes and their protein products.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)277-281
Number of pages5
JournalRespiratory Physiology and Neurobiology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Dec 10 2008


  • Activator protein-1
  • Hypoxia-inducible factor-1
  • Intermittent hypoxia
  • NADPH oxidase
  • NFAT
  • Nuclear factor kB
  • Reactive oxygen species

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine

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