Jumping the barrier: VE-cadherin, VEGF and other angiogenic modifiers in cancer

Biol Cell. 2011 Dec 1;103(12):593-605. doi: 10.1042/BC20110069.


The endothelial barrier controls the passage of fluids, nutrients and cells through the vascular wall. This physiological function is closely related to developmental and adult angiogenesis, blood pressure control, as well as immune responses. Moreover, cancer progression is frequently characterized by disorganized and leaky blood vessels. In this context, vascular permeability drives tumour-induced angiogenesis, blood flow disturbances, inflammatory cell infiltration and tumour cell extravasation. Although various molecules have been implicated, the vascular endothelial adhesion molecule, VE-cadherin (vascular endothelial cadherin), has emerged as a critical player involved in maintaining endothelial barrier integrity and homoeostasis. Indeed, VE-cadherin coordinates the endothelial cell-cell junctions through its adhesive and signalling properties. Of note, many angiogenic and inflammatory mediators released into the tumour microenvironment influence VE-cadherin behaviour. Therefore restoring VE-cadherin function could be one very promising target for vascular normalization in cancer therapies. In this review, we will mainly focus on recent discoveries concerning the molecular mechanisms involved in modulating VE-cadherin plasticity in cancer.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Angiogenesis Inducing Agents / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Antigens, CD / genetics
  • Antigens, CD / metabolism*
  • Cadherins / genetics
  • Cadherins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Junctions / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / genetics
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / metabolism*
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / genetics
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / metabolism*


  • Angiogenesis Inducing Agents
  • Antigens, CD
  • Cadherins
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • cadherin 5