Pathophysiology of cardiotoxicity from target therapy and angiogenesis inhibitors

Nicola Maurea, Carmela Coppola, Giovanna Piscopo, Francesca Galletta, Gennaro Riccio, Emanuela Esposito, Claudia De Lorenzo, Michelino De Laurentiis, Paolo Spallarossa, Giuseppe Mercuro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The progress in cancer therapy and the increase in number of long-term survivors reveal the issue of cardiovascular side-effects of anticancer drugs. Cardiotoxicity has become a significant problem, and the risks of adverse cardiac events induced by systemic drugs need to be seriously considered. Potential cardiovascular toxicities linked to anticancer agents include arrhythmias, myocardial ischemia and infarction, hypertension, thromboembolism, left ventricular dysfunction, and heart failure. It has been shown that several anticancer drugs seriously affect the cardiovascular system, such as ErbB2 inhibitors, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) inhibitors, multitargeted kinase inhibitors, Abelson murine leukemia viral oncogene homolog inhibitors, and others. Each of these agents has a different mechanism through which it affects the cardiovascular system. ErbB2 inhibitors block the ErbB4/ErbB2 heterodimerization pathway triggered by Neuregulin-1, which is essential for cardiomyocyte survival. VEGF signaling is crucial for vascular growth, but it also has a major impact on myocardial function, and the VEGF pathway is also essential for maintenance of cardiovascular homeostasis. Drugs that inhibit the VEGF signaling pathway lead to a net reduction in capillary density and loss of contractile function. Here, we review the mechanisms and pathophysiology of the most significant cardiotoxic effects of ErbB2 inhibitors and antiangiogenic drugs. Moreover, we highlight the role of cardioncology in recognizing these toxicities, developing strategies to prevent or minimize cardiovascular toxicity, and reducing long-term cardiotoxic effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S19-S26
JournalJournal of Cardiovascular Medicine
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2016


  • cancer therapy
  • cardiotoxicity
  • ErbB2
  • trastuzumab
  • vascular endothelial growth factor inhibitors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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