Interferon-α as angiogenesis inhibitor: Learning from tumor models

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Interferon-α (IFN-α), a cytokine with marked therapeutic activity in transplantable tumor models, has been identified as powerful angiogenesis inhibitor. The effects of IFN-α on the vasculature have been mainly attributed to inhibition of basic fibroblast growth factor production by tumor cells or downregulation of IL-8 and vascular endothelial growth factor gene expression. Moreover, IFN-α has direct effects on endothelial cells (EC), including impairment of their proliferation and migration. The gene expression profile induced by IFN-α in EC has recently been defined, and it was found that several genes encoding negative regulators of angiogenesis are upmodulated, thus providing a potential amplification mechanism for this biological activity. The anti-angiogenic effects of IFN-α appear to be associated with increased hypoxia and ischemic necrosis in subcutaneous xenograft models, whereas in transgenic mouse models, IFN-α may simultaneously interfere with both blood vessels and tumor cell proliferation, leading to regression of tumors without necrosis. The consequences of IFN-α therapy on the invasive and metastatic behavior of tumor cells are currently unknown. Finally, as effective anti-angiogenic therapy with IFN-α demands sustained localized production of this cytokine, innovative strategies of targeted delivery of the IFN-α gene into tumors are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)244-247
Number of pages4
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2010


  • Angiogenesis
  • Cancer
  • Gene therapy
  • Hypoxia
  • Interferon

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Immunology and Allergy


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