'Accidental' anti-angiogenic drugs. anti-oncogene directed signal transduction inhibitors and conventional chemotherapeutic agents as examples

Eur J Cancer. 2000 Jun;36(10):1248-57. doi: 10.1016/s0959-8049(00)00092-7.


A number of drugs currently being tested in clinical trials as possible angiogenesis inhibitors were not originally developed with the intention of suppressing tumour angiogenesis. Thalidomide and interferon alpha are obvious examples of such drugs. This list of 'accidental' angiogenesis inhibitors may include established agents such as conventional cytotoxic chemotherapeutic drugs as well as the new generation of anticancer drugs known as anti-oncoprotein signal transduction inhibitors. With respect to the former, the potential of such drugs to inhibit angiogenesis could be the result of their ability to cause collateral damaging effects on cycling endothelial cells found in newly formed blood vessels, or inhibiting other vital endothelial cell functions necessary for angiogenesis. The antitumour vascular side-effects of chemotherapy may be optimised by administering such drugs continuously on a more frequent (e.g. weekly or even daily) basis at levels well below the maximum tolerated dose (MTD), especially when this is done in combination with newly developed anti-angiogenic drugs such as vascular endothelial cell growth factor (VEGF) receptor blocking antibodies. This strategy may minimise or delay the problems of host toxicity and acquired drug resistance. The possibility of anti-angiogenic effects mediated by signal transduction inhibitors such as ras farnesyltransferase inhibitors (ras FTI's), or drugs which block receptor tyrosine kinases (e.g. ErbB2/neu) such as Herceptin, may be the consequence of such oncogenes inducing or upregulating various pro-angiogenic molecules such as VEGF (vascular endothelial cell growth factor) in tumour cells. Hence, treatment of tumour cells with such drugs can lead to downregulation of tumour cell-associated VEGF expression and this can contribute to an anti-angiogenic effect of the drug in vivo. In addition, some of these drugs may also affect certain 'activated' endothelial cell functions directly so as to block angiogenesis. An awareness of the potential of such conventional or experimental anticancer drugs to affect tumour growth through blockade or suppression of angiogenesis has implications for how anticancer drugs may be used clinically, either alone, or in combination with other drugs to optimally treat cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Endothelial Growth Factors / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lymphokines / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, SCID
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic
  • Neuroblastoma / drug therapy*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factors
  • Vinblastine / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Vinblastine / therapeutic use


  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Endothelial Growth Factors
  • Lymphokines
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factors
  • Vinblastine