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Pharmacol Ther. 2015 Sep;153:107-24. doi: 10.1016/j.pharmthera.2015.06.006. Epub 2015 Jun 11.

Modulation of the tumor vasculature and oxygenation to improve therapy.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Florida Health Cancer Center, Gainesville, FL, USA. Electronic address:
Department of Experimental Clinical Oncology, Aarhus University Hospital-NBG, Aarhus, Denmark.


The tumor microenvironment is increasingly recognized as a major factor influencing the success of therapeutic treatments and has become a key focus for cancer research. The progressive growth of a tumor results in an inability of normal tissue blood vessels to oxygenate and provide sufficient nutritional support to tumor cells. As a consequence the expanding neoplastic cell population initiates its own vascular network which is both structurally and functionally abnormal. This aberrant vasculature impacts all aspects of the tumor microenvironment including the cells, extracellular matrix, and extracellular molecules which together are essential for the initiation, progression and spread of tumor cells. The physical conditions that arise are imposing and manifold, and include elevated interstitial pressure, localized extracellular acidity, and regions of oxygen and nutrient deprivation. No less important are the functional consequences experienced by the tumor cells residing in such environments: adaptation to hypoxia, cell quiescence, modulation of transporters and critical signaling molecules, immune escape, and enhanced metastatic potential. Together these factors lead to therapeutic barriers that create a significant hindrance to the control of cancers by conventional anticancer therapies. However, the aberrant nature of the tumor microenvironments also offers unique therapeutic opportunities. Particularly interventions that seek to improve tumor physiology and alleviate tumor hypoxia will selectively impair the neoplastic cell populations residing in these environments. Ultimately, by combining such therapeutic strategies with conventional anticancer treatments it may be possible to bring cancer growth, invasion, and metastasis to a halt.


Exercise; Hypoxia modifiers; Metastases; Microenvironment; Stem cells; Vascular targeting

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