Angiogenesis in cancer: anti-VEGF escape mechanisms

Gerald W. Prager, Marina Poettler, Matthias Unseld, Christoph C. Zielinski


It is now widely accepted that tumor-angiogenesis plays a crucial role in tumor growth, tumor propagation and metastasis formation. Among several angiogenic activators, the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and its receptors represent one of the major inducers of tumor angiogenesis. Thus, this system has become the focus of therapeutic interventions, which led to the approval of the anti-VEGF blocking antibody bevacizumab and the VEGFR-2 pathway inhibitors pazopanib, sorafenib and sunitinib. However, not every cancer patient benefits from such treatment or finally becomes resistant to anti-VEGF approaches; others are suffering from adverse effects. Thus, there is an urgent need for a better understanding of VEGF-independent mechanisms leading to angiogenesis in cancer. This review focuses on anti-VEGF escape mechanisms of tumor cells and its microenvironment.