Involvement of HIF-1α activation in the doxorubicin resistance of human osteosarcoma cells

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Osteosarcoma is the most common primary bone cancer in children and adolescents. Despite aggressive treatment regimens, survival outcomes remain unsatisfactory, particularly in patients with metastatic and/or recurrent disease. Unfortunately, treatment failure is commonly due to the development of chemoresistance, for which the underlying molecular mechanisms remain unclear. The aim of the present study was to investigate the role of hypoxia-inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α) and its signalling pathways as mediators of drug-resistance in human osteosarcoma. Toward this aim, we established two osteosarcoma cell lines selected for resistance to doxorubicin, a drug of choice in the treatment of this tumour. Our results showed that the multidrug resistance (MDR) phenotype was also mediated by HIF-1α, the most important regulator of cell adaptation to hypoxia. Our data showed that this transcription factor promoted the outward transport of intracellular doxorubicin by activating the P-glycoprotein (P-gp) expression in osteosarcoma cells maintained in normoxic conditions. In addition, it hindered doxorubicin-induced apoptosis by regulating the expression of c-Myc and p21. Finally, we observed that the doxorubicin-resistant cells maintained for 2 months of continuous culture in a drug-free medium, lost their drug-resistance and this effect was associated with the absence of HIF-1α expression. The emerging role of HIF-1α in osteosarcoma biology indicates its use as a valuable therapeutic target.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)389-394
Number of pages6
JournalOncology Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Doxorubicin
  • Hypoxia-inducible factor-1α
  • Multidrug resistance
  • Osteosarcoma
  • P-glycoprotein

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology
  • Medicine(all)


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