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Histol Histopathol. 2012 May;27(5):549-57.

Activation of alternative pathways of angiogenesis and involvement of stem cells following anti-angiogenesis treatment in glioma.

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  • 1Cellular and Molecular Imaging Laboratory, Department of Radiology, Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit, MI 48202, USA.


Malignant gliomas are hypervascular tumors that are highly resistant to all the currently available multimodal treatments. Therefore, anti-angiogenic therapies targeting VEGF or VEGF receptors (VEGFRs) were designed and thought to be an effective tool for controlling the growth of malignant gliomas. However, recent results of early clinical trials using humanized monoclonal antibodies against VEGF (Bevacizumab), as well as small-molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitors that target different VEGF receptors (VEGFRs) (Vatalanib, Vandetanib, Sunitinib, Sorafenib, etc) alone or in combination with other therapeutic agents demonstrated differing outcomes, with the majority of reports indicating that glioma developed resistance to the employed anti-angiogenic treatments. It has been noted that continued anti-angiogenic therapy targeting only the VEGF-VEGFR system might affect pro-angiogenic factors other than VEGF, such as basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF), stromal derived factor 1 (SDF-1) and Tie-2. These factors may in turn stimulate angiogenesis by mobilizing bone marrow derived precursor cells, such as endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs), which are known to promote angiogenesis and vasculogenesis. In this short review, the current antiangiogenic treatments, possible mechanisms of activation of alternative pathways of angiogenesis, and possible involvement of bone marrow derived progenitor cells in the failure of anti-angiogenic treatments are discussed.

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