, Volume 73, Issue 7, pp 333-346

Angiogenesis: mechanistic insights, neovascular diseases, and therapeutic prospects

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Abstract

This review of angiogenesis aims to describe (a) stimuli that either elicit or antagonize angiogenesis, (b) the response of the vasculature to angiogenic or antiangiogenic stimuli, i.e., processes required for the formation of new vessels, (c) aspects of angiogenesis relating to tissue remodeling and disease, and (d) the potential of angiogenic or antiangiogenic therapeutic measures. Angiogenesis, the formation of new vessels from existing microvessels, is important in embryogenesis, wound healing, diabetic retinopathy, tumor growth, and other diseases. Hypoxia and other as yet ill-defined stimuli drive tumor, inflammatory, and connective tissue cells to generate angiogenic molecules such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), fibroblast growth factor (FGF), transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β), platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), and others. Natural and synthetic angiogenesis inhibitors such as angiostatin and thalidomide can repress angiogenesis. Angiogenic and antiangiogenic molecules control the formation of new vessels via different mechanisms. VEGF and FGF elicit their effects mainly via direct action on relevant endothelial cells. TGF-β and PDGF can attract inflammatory or connective tissue cells which in turn control angiogenesis. Additionally, PDGF may act differently on specific phenotypes of endothelial cells that are engaged in angiogenesis or that are of microvascular origin. Thus phenotypic traits of endothelial cells committed to angiogenesis may determine their cellular responses to given stimuli. Processes necessary for new vessel formation and regulated by angiogenic/antiangiogenic molecules include the migration and proliferation of endothelial cells from the microvasculature, the controlled expression of proteolytic enzymes, the breakdown and reassembly of extracellular matrix, and the morphogenic process of endothelial tube formation. In animal models some angiogenesis-dependent diseases can be controlled via induction or inhibition of new vessel formation. Lifethreatening infantile hemangiomas are a first established indication for antiangiogenic therapy in humans. Treatment of other diseases by modulation of angiogenesis are currently tested in clinical trials. Thus the manipulation of new vessel formation in angiogenesis-dependent conditions such as wound healing, inflammatory diseases, ischemic heart and peripheral vascular disease, myocardial infarction, diabetic retinopathy, and cancer is likely to create new therapeutic options.