Keeping the engine primed: HIF factors as key regulators of cardiac metabolism and angiogenesis during ischemia

Ralph V. Shohet, Joseph A. Garcia

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

101 Scopus citations


Myocardial ischemia, the most common cause of cardiac hypoxia in clinical medicine, occurs when oxygen delivery cannot meet myocardial metabolic requirements in the heart. This deficiency can result from either a reduced supply of oxygen (decreased coronary bloodflow) or an increased myocardial demand for oxygen (increased wall stress or afterload). Patients with stable coronary artery disease as well as patients experiencing acute myocardial infarction can experience episodes of severe ischemia. Although hypoxia is an obligatory component, it is not the sole environmental stress experienced by the ischemic heart. Reperfusion after ischemia is associated with increased oxidative stress as the heart reverts to aerobic respiration and thereby generates toxic levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS). During mild ischemia, mitochondrial function is partially compromised and substrate preferences adapt to sustain adequate ATP generation. With severe ischemia, mitochondrial function is markedly compromised and anaerobic metabolism must provide energy no matter what the cost in generation of toxic ROS adducts. Ischemia produces a variety of environmental stresses that impair cardiovascular function. As a result, multiple signaling pathways are activated in mammalian cells during ischemia/reperfusion injury in an attempt to minimize cellular injury and maintain cardiac output. Amongst the transcriptional regulators activated are members of the hypoxia inducible factor (HIF) transcription factor family. HIF factors regulate a variety of genes that affect a myriad of cellular processes including metabolism, angiogenesis, cell survival, and oxygen delivery, all of which are important in the heart. In this review, we will focus on the metabolic and angiogenic aspects of HIF biology as they relate to the heart during ischemia. We will review the metabolic requirements of the heart under normal as well as hypoxic conditions, the effects of preconditioning and its regulation as it pertains to HIF biology, the apparent roles of HIF-1 and HIF-2 in intermediary metabolism, and translational applications of HIF-1 and HIF-2 biology to cardiac angiogenesis. Increased understanding of the role of HIFs in cardiac ischemia will ultimately influence clinical cardiovascular practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1309-1315
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Molecular Medicine
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2007


  • Angiogenesis
  • HIF
  • Heart
  • Hypoxia
  • Ischemia
  • Metabolism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Drug Discovery
  • Genetics(clinical)


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