Introduction: Bladder cancer is the most common urinary tract malignancy in western countries. In recent years, extensive research has suggested that angiogenesis plays an important role in bladder cancer biology, contributing to tumor growth and progression.
Material and methods: In this review, we discuss general mechanisms of angiogenesis and highlight the influence of pro- and anti-angiogenic factors, and cancer stem cells on bladder cancer biology, their relation to disease progression, and potential use in novel targeted therapies.
Results: Expression of a number of proangiogenic factors, including HIF-1, VEGF, bFGF, IL-8 and MMPs, as well as anti-angiogenic factor TSP-1, was found to be altered in bladder tumors. Involvement of cancer stem cells in bladder cancer development was also proposed.
Conclusions: High expression of most pro-angiogenic factors correlated with disease progression and shorter patient survival, but discrepancies between studies urge us to continue evaluating the significance of angiogenesis in bladder cancer.
Keywords: angiogenesis; angiogenic factors; biomarkers; bladder cancer; cancer stem cells; urothelial carcinoma.