The role of endothelial-to-mesenchymal transition in cancer progression

Br J Cancer. 2008 Nov 4;99(9):1375-9. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6604662. Epub 2008 Sep 16.


Recent evidence has demonstrated that endothelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EndMT) may have a significant role in a number of diseases. Although EndMT has been previously studied as a critical process in heart development, it is now clear that EndMT can also occur postnatally in various pathologic settings, including cancer and cardiac fibrosis. During EndMT, resident endothelial cells delaminate from an organised cell layer and acquire a mesenchymal phenotype characterised by loss of cell-cell junctions, loss of endothelial markers, gain of mesenchymal markers, and acquisition of invasive and migratory properties. Endothelial-to-mesenchymal transition -derived cells are believed to function as fibroblasts in damaged tissue, and may therefore have an important role in tissue remodelling and fibrosis. In tumours, EndMT is an important source of cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs), which are known to facilitate tumour progression in several ways. These new findings suggest that targeting EndMT may be a novel therapeutic strategy, which is broadly applicable not only to cancer but also to various other disease states.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Disease Progression
  • Endothelial Cells / cytology
  • Endothelial Cells / pathology*
  • Fibroblasts / pathology
  • Fibrosis
  • Heart / embryology
  • Humans
  • Mesoderm / cytology
  • Mesoderm / pathology*
  • Myocardium / pathology
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Neovascularization, Physiologic
  • Signal Transduction