Tumor progression and angiogenesis: cathepsin B & Co

Biochem Cell Biol. 1996;74(6):799-810. doi: 10.1139/o96-086.


Experimental and clinical evidence reveals that the growth of solid tumors is dependent on angiogenesis. Proteolytic enzymes such as plasminogen activators and matrix metalloproteinases have been implicated in this neovascularization. The role of lysosomal proteases in this process has yet to be explored. Increased expression of the lysosomal cysteine protease cathepsin B has been observed in many etiologically different tumors, including human brain, prostate, breast, and gastrointestinal cancers. Immunohistochemical and in situ histochemical studies have demonstrated expression of cathepsin B in neovessels induced during malignant progression of human glioblastoma and prostate carcinomas. In these two tumor types, neovessels stain strongly for cathepsin B compared with the normal microvasculature. As an initial point to elucidate whether cathepsin B is an important component of the angiogenic response in tumours, we analyzed expression of cathepsin B in endothelial cells during neovessel formation. We present evidence for strong immunostaining of cathepsin B in rat brain microvascular endothelial cells as they form capillary tubes in vitro. This finding is discussed within the general framework of the role of proteolytic enzymes in tumor invasion and angiogenesis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cathepsin B / analysis
  • Cathepsin B / physiology*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Neoplasms / blood supply*
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic*


  • Cathepsin B