Neurologic conditions including stroke, Alzheimer disease, Parkinson disease, and Huntington disease are leading causes of death and long-term disability in the United States, and efforts to develop novel therapeutics for these conditions have historically had poor success in translating from bench to bedside. Hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1α mediates a broad, evolutionarily conserved, endogenous adaptive program to hypoxia, and manipulation of components of the HIF pathway is neuroprotective in a number of human neurological diseases and experimental models. In this review, we discuss molecular components of one aspect of hypoxic adaptation in detail and provide perspective on which targets within this pathway seem to be ripest for preventing and repairing neurodegeneration. Further, we highlight the role of HIF prolyl hydroxylases as emerging targets for the salutary effects of metal chelators on ferroptosis in vitro as well in animal models of neurological diseases.Highlights
Adaptation to hypoxia has evolved over billions of years. HIF prolyl hydroxylases are sensors of hypoxia. Antioxidant “metal chelators” inhibit HIF prolyl hydroxylases. Prolyl hydroxylase inhibitors prevent death via HIF-dependent and independent paths. Prolyl hydroxylase inhibitors prevent ferroptosis and stroke.