Collagen density regulates tip-stalk cell rearrangement during angiogenesis via cellular bioenergetics

APL Bioeng. 2024 Jun 10;8(2):026120. doi: 10.1063/5.0195249. eCollection 2024 Jun.


Tumor vasculature plays a crucial role in tumor progression, affecting nutrition and oxygen transportation as well as the efficiency of drug delivery. While targeting pro-angiogenic growth factors has been a significant focus for treating tumor angiogenesis, recent studies indicate that metabolism also plays a role in regulating endothelial cell behavior. Like cancer cells, tumor endothelial cells undergo metabolic changes that regulate rearrangement for tip cell position during angiogenesis. Our previous studies have shown that altered mechanical properties of the collagen matrix regulate angiogenesis and can promote a tumor vasculature phenotype. Here, we examine the effect of collagen density on endothelial cell tip-stalk cell rearrangement and cellular energetics during angiogenic sprouting. We find that increased collagen density leads to an elevated energy state and an increased rate of tip-stalk cell switching, which is correlated with the energy state of the cells. Tip cells exhibit higher glucose uptake than stalk cells, and inhibition of glucose uptake revealed that invading sprouts rely on glucose to meet elevated energy requirements for invasion in dense matrices. This work helps to elucidate the complex interplay between the mechanical microenvironment and the endothelial cell metabolic status during angiogenesis, which could have important implications for developing new anti-cancer therapies.