Differentiation of human tumour-associated dendritic cells into endothelial-like cells: an alternative pathway of tumour angiogenesis

Scand J Immunol. 2007 Apr;65(4):329-35. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3083.2007.01903.x.


Until recently, the only accepted mechanism of tumour vascularization was the sprouting of endothelial cells (EC) from pre-existing vessels, while recent studies suggest the contribution of stem cell-derived endothelial progenitors as well as cells from the myeloid lineage. Here, we show a new way of endothelial differentiation that involves the specific modulation of monocytes by the tumour environment. The tumour milieu is characterized by the presence of cytokines and lactate which induce the differentiation of tumour-invading monocytes into tumour-associated dendritic cells (DC). Additional incubation of tumour-associated DC with pro-angiogenic factors, such as vascular endothelial growth factor and oncostatin M, led to transdifferentiation into endothelial-like cells. The cells showed strong expression of von Willebrand factor and VE-Cadherin, both classical EC markers, while leukocytic markers were reduced. In addition, they were able to form network-like structures on matrigel, which could be blocked by the DNA-based drug Defibrotide. This finding may be of great therapeutic relevance for tumour therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Differentiation / immunology*
  • Cell Lineage / immunology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dendritic Cells / cytology*
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Endothelial Cells / cytology*
  • Endothelial Cells / immunology
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Neoplasms / blood supply
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / metabolism*
  • Oncostatin M / metabolism
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / metabolism


  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Oncostatin M