Hypoxia determines survival outcomes of bacterial infection through HIF-1α–dependent reprogramming of leukocyte metabolism

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Science Immunology  10 Feb 2017:
Vol. 2, Issue 8, eaal2861
DOI: 10.1126/sciimmunol.aal2861

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Hypoxic immune cell conditioning

Oxygen deficiency, or hypoxia, has been shown to alter immune cell function. However, how these hypoxia-induced immune cell changes affect the host response to bacterial infection has remained unclear. Now, Thompson et al. report that although acute hypoxia accentuated morbidity and mortality as a result of bacterial infection in mice, chronic hypoxia before infection could actually prevent these pathological responses. This hypoxic preconditioning reduced neutrophil glucose utilization, decreasing the related pathology. If these findings hold true in humans, they suggest that immune targeting could aid patients with systemic hypoxia and chronic infections such as adult respiratory distress syndrome or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.