Alternative vascularization mechanisms in cancer: Pathology and therapeutic implications

Am J Pathol. 2007 Jan;170(1):1-15. doi: 10.2353/ajpath.2007.060302.


Although cancer cells are not generally controlled by normal regulatory mechanisms, tumor growth is highly dependent on the supply of oxygen, nutrients, and host-derived regulators. It is now established that tumor vasculature is not necessarily derived from endothelial cell sprouting; instead, cancer tissue can acquire its vasculature by co-option of pre-existing vessels, intussusceptive microvascular growth, postnatal vasculogenesis, glomeruloid angiogenesis, or vasculogenic mimicry. The best-known molecular pathway driving tumor vascularization is the hypoxia-adaptation mechanism. However, a broad and diverse spectrum of genetic aberrations is associated with the development of the "angiogenic phenotype." Based on this knowledge, novel forms of antivascular modalities have been developed in the past decade. When applying these targeted therapies, the stage of tumor progression, the type of vascularization of the given cancer tissue, and the molecular machinery behind the vascularization process all need to be considered. A further challenge is finding the most appropriate combinations of antivascular therapies and standard radio- and chemotherapies. This review intends to integrate our recent knowledge in this field into a rational strategy that could be the basis for developing effective clinical modalities using antivascular therapy for cancer.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Animals
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / blood supply*
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic* / drug therapy
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic* / genetics
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic* / pathology


  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors