Angiogenesis: the role of the microenvironment in flipping the switch

Curr Opin Genet Dev. 2001 Feb;11(1):35-40. doi: 10.1016/s0959-437x(00)00153-2.


The initiating factors in angiogenesis during development and disease are often microenvironmental changes, which induce signaling to the vasculature from affected tissues. Among these, lowered oxygen pressure, hypoxia, is one of the most potent inducers/initiators of an angiogenic response. Significant evidence indicates that hypoxia acts as a morphogen during vascularization - inducing and shaping the recruitment and formation of new vascular beds through critical transcriptional control pathways. Recent advances indicate that extensive interactions occur between developing blood vessels, the tissues that they vascularize, and the interstitial environment to control and shape the establishment of new capillary beds. Identification of the processes that control the hypoxic response intracellularly has allowed an increasingly sophisticated understanding of angiogenesis as a process that is very closely tied to the microenvironment that it occurs in. Further understanding of these processes may present powerful therapeutic opportunities for disease intervention.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Communication
  • Cell Division
  • Cell Hypoxia
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / genetics*
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / metabolism
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hypertrophy / pathology
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / genetics*
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / metabolism
  • Nuclear Proteins / metabolism
  • Oxygen / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • HIF1A protein, human
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1, alpha Subunit
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • Oxygen