Angiogenesis is a biological process by which new capillaries are formed from preexisting vessels. It occurs in physiological and pathological conditions, such as tumors, where a specific turning point is the transition from the avascular to the vascular phase. Tumor angiogenesis depends mainly on the release by neoplastic cells of growth factors specific for endothelial cells able to stimulate the growth of the host's blood vessels. In neuroblastoma, the most common extracranial solid tumor of infancy and childhood, angiogenesis also appears to play an important role in determining tumor phenotype. The nature of the angiogenic balance in neuroblastoma is complex, and a spectrum of angiogenesis stimulators, such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF-2), and inhibitors, such as tissue inhibitors of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), have been detected in neuroblastoma tumors. Moreover, an increased production of MMP-2 and -9 has been also observed in advanced stages of tumor, favoring degradation of extracellular matrix and enhancing tumor dissemination. High tumor vascularity is correlated with widely disseminated disease, MYCN amplification, unfavorable histology, and poor outcome. In contrast, low tumor vascularity is associated with prognostically favorable features, such as a localized disease and favorable histology. It is becoming increasingly evident that agents that interfere with blood vessel formation also block tumor progression. Preclinical studies suggest that antiangiogenic strategies may be effective in the treatment of neuroblastoma. A major goal is the determination of whether inhibition of angiogenesis is a realistic way of inhibiting tumor cell dissemination and formation of metastasis in neuroblastoma.
- Tumor progression
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)