The dark side of tumor-associated endothelial cells

Publication date: February 2018
Source:Seminars in Immunology, Volume 35
Author(s): Francesco De Sanctis, Stefano Ugel, John Facciponte, Andrea Facciabene
Angiogenesis is a hallmark of cancer and a requisite that tumors must achieve to fulfill their metabolic needs of nutrients and oxygen. As a critical step in cancer progression, the ‘angiogenic switch’ allows tumor cells to survive and grow, and provides them access to vasculature resulting in metastatic progression and dissemination. Tumor-dependent triggering of the angiogenic switch has critical consequences on tumor progression which extends from an increased nutrient supply and relies instead on the ability of the tumor to hijack the host immune response for the generation of a local immunoprivileged microenvironment. Tumor angiogenic-mediated establishment of endothelial anergy is responsible for this process. However, tumor endothelium can also promote immune tolerance by unbalanced expression of co-stimulatory and co-inhibitory molecules and by releasing soluble factors that restrain T cell function and induce apoptosis. In this review, we discuss the molecular properties of the tumor endothelial barrier and endothelial anergy and discuss the main immunosuppressive mechanisms triggered by the tumor endothelium. Lastly, we describe the current anti-angiogenic therapeutic landscape and how targeting tumor angiogenesis can contribute to improve clinical benefits for patients.