Mechanisms of normal and tumor-derived angiogenesis

Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2002 May;282(5):C947-70. doi: 10.1152/ajpcell.00389.2001.


Often those diseases most evasive to therapeutic intervention usurp the human body's own cellular machinery or deregulate normal physiological processes for propagation. Tumor-induced angiogenesis is a pathological condition that results from aberrant deployment of normal angiogenesis, an essential process in which the vascular tree is remodeled by the growth of new capillaries from preexisting vessels. Normal angiogenesis ensures that developing or healing tissues receive an adequate supply of nutrients. Within the confines of a tumor, the availability of nutrients is limited by competition among actively proliferating cells, and diffusion of metabolites is impeded by high interstitial pressure (Jain RK. Cancer Res 47: 3039-3051, 1987). As a result, tumor cells induce the formation of a new blood supply from the preexisting vasculature, and this affords tumor cells the ability to survive and propagate in a hostile environment. Because both normal and tumor-induced neovascularization fulfill the essential role of satisfying the metabolic demands of a tissue, the mechanisms by which cancer cells stimulate pathological neovascularization mimic those utilized by normal cells to foster physiological angiogenesis. This review investigates mechanisms of tumor-induced angiogenesis. The strategies used by cancer cells to develop their own blood supply are discussed in relation to those employed by normal cells during physiological angiogenesis. With an understanding of blood vessel growth in both normal and abnormal settings, we are better suited to design effective therapeutics for cancer.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Angiopoietin-2
  • Blood Vessels / physiology*
  • Growth Substances / genetics
  • Growth Substances / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Models, Cardiovascular
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic*
  • Neovascularization, Physiologic*
  • Proteins / metabolism
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / metabolism
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / metabolism
  • Receptors, TIE


  • Angiopoietin-2
  • Growth Substances
  • Proteins
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • Receptors, TIE