Towards a better understanding of endothelial cell transformation in cancer progression

Towards a better understanding of endothelial cell transformation in cancer progression

Endothelial cells play a crucial role in cancer progression. These cells line the inner surface of blood vessels and are responsible for maintaining vascular integrity and regulating blood flow. However, in the context of cancer, endothelial cells can undergo transformation, leading to the formation of abnormal blood vessels that support tumor growth and metastasis.

Understanding the mechanisms behind endothelial cell transformation is essential for developing effective anti-cancer therapies. Recent research has shed light on several key factors involved in this process.

1. Angiogenesis and tumor angiogenesis

Angiogenesis, the formation of new blood vessels, is a normal physiological process that occurs during development and wound healing. However, in cancer, tumor cells release various angiogenic factors that stimulate the growth of new blood vessels towards the tumor.

Tumor angiogenesis involves the recruitment and activation of endothelial cells, which undergo a series of changes to support tumor growth. These changes include increased proliferation, migration, and invasion capabilities.

2. Endothelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EndMT)

Endothelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EndMT) is a process in which endothelial cells lose their characteristic features and acquire mesenchymal-like properties. This transformation is associated with increased cell motility, invasiveness, and resistance to apoptosis.

EndMT has been observed in various pathological conditions, including cancer. It is believed to contribute to tumor angiogenesis and metastasis by promoting the migration of endothelial cells away from blood vessels and into the tumor microenvironment.

3. Epithelial-to-endothelial transition (EET)

Epithelial-to-endothelial transition (EET) is the reverse process of EndMT, in which epithelial cells acquire endothelial-like characteristics. EET has been implicated in tumor progression and metastasis, as it allows cancer cells to mimic endothelial cells and form their own blood vessels.

Understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying EET could provide valuable insights into the development of targeted therapies aimed at disrupting tumor angiogenesis and inhibiting metastasis.

4. Role of signaling pathways

Several signaling pathways have been implicated in endothelial cell transformation during cancer progression. These include the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) pathway, transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-?) pathway, and Notch signaling pathway.

Targeting these pathways with specific inhibitors has shown promising results in preclinical and clinical studies, highlighting their potential as therapeutic targets for cancer treatment.


Endothelial cell transformation plays a critical role in cancer progression, facilitating tumor angiogenesis and metastasis. Understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying this process is crucial for developing effective anti-cancer therapies.

Further research into angiogenesis, EndMT, EET, and signaling pathways involved in endothelial cell transformation will undoubtedly contribute to the development of novel therapeutic strategies that can improve patient outcomes and ultimately lead to better cancer management.