Vessel abnormalization: another hallmark of cancer? Molecular mechanisms and therapeutic implications

Curr Opin Genet Dev. 2011 Feb;21(1):73-9. doi: 10.1016/j.gde.2010.10.008. Epub 2010 Nov 22.


As a result of excessive production of angiogenic molecules, tumor vessels become abnormal in structure and function. By impairing oxygen delivery, abnormal vessels fuel a vicious cycle of non-productive angiogenesis, which creates a hostile microenvironment from where tumor cells escape through leaky vessels and which renders tumors less responsive to chemoradiation. While anti-angiogenic strategies focused on inhibiting new vessel growth and destroying pre-existing vessels, clinical studies showed modest anti-tumor effects. For many solid tumors, anti-VEGF treatment offers greater clinical benefit when combined with chemotherapy. This is partly due to a normalization of the tumor vasculature, which improves cytotoxic drug delivery and efficacy and offers unprecedented opportunities for anti-cancer treatment. Here, we overview key novel molecular players that induce vessel normalization.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / blood supply*
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / drug therapy*
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / metabolism*
  • Oxygen / metabolism
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / antagonists & inhibitors


  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Oxygen