The therapeutic potential of targeting the endothelial-to-mesenchymal transition

Angiogenesis. 2019 Feb;22(1):3-13. doi: 10.1007/s10456-018-9639-0. Epub 2018 Aug 3.


Endothelial cells (ECs) have been found to be capable of acquiring a mesenchymal phenotype through a process known as endothelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EndMT). First seen in the developing embryo, EndMT can be triggered postnatally under certain pathological conditions. During this process, ECs dedifferentiate into mesenchymal stem-like cells (MSCs) and subsequently give rise to cell types belonging to the mesoderm lineage. As EndMT contributes to a multitude of diseases, pharmacological modulation of the signaling pathways underlying EndMT may prove to be effective as a therapeutic treatment. Additionally, EndMT in ECs could also be exploited to acquire multipotent MSCs, which can be readily re-differentiated into various distinct cell types. In this review, we will consider current models of EndMT, how manipulation of this process might improve treatment of clinically important pathologies and how it could be harnessed to advance regenerative medicine and tissue engineering.

Keywords: Differentiation; Endothelial cell; Endothelial-to-mesenchymal transition; Signaling; TGF-β; Tissue engineering; Vascular disease.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Lineage
  • Embryo, Mammalian / metabolism*
  • Embryo, Mammalian / pathology
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism*
  • Endothelial Cells / pathology
  • Humans
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / pathology
  • Mesoderm / metabolism*
  • Mesoderm / pathology
  • Models, Biological*
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Vascular Diseases / embryology*
  • Vascular Diseases / pathology