Although the terms ischemia and hypoxia are often used interchangeably, they represent distinct processes that result in different modulatory effects at the cellular level. Hypoxia is a reduction in oxygen delivery below tissue demand, whereas ischemia is a lack of perfusion, characterized not only by hypoxia but also by insufficient nutrient supply. Hypoxia can be either acute or chronic, and both are centrally regulated by hypoxia-inducible factor, a transcription factor that governs the expression of key response genes such as vascular endothelial growth factor and erythropoietin. Whereas severe chronic hypoxia can cause cell death, less-severe hypoxia can protect against subsequent damage, a phenomenon known as hypoxic conditioning. Several important processes are characterized by hypoxia, including ischemia-reperfusion, tumor growth and progression, inflammation, myocardial ischemia, and a number of ocular pathologies.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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