Chapter 7

The Contribution of Circulating Endothelial Cells to Tumor Angiogenesis

Francesco Bertolini, Patrizia Mancuso, Paola Braidotti, Yuval Shaked and Robert S. Kerbel

Abstract

Immunohistochemistry, flow cytometry and cell culture procedures have demonstrated the presence of circulating endothelial cells (CECs) and circulating endothelial progenitors (CEPs) in the blood of vertebrates. CECs and CEPs are currently being investigated in a variety of diseases as markers of vascular turnover or damage and, also in the case of CEPs, vasculogenesis. CEPs appear to have a “catalytic” role in different steps of cancer progression and recurrence after therapy, and there are preclinical and clinical data suggesting that CEC enumeration might be useful to select and predict clinical response in patients who are candidates for anti-angiogenic treatments. In some types of cancer, CECs and CEPs might be one of the possible hidden identities of cancer stem cells. The definition of CEC and CEP phenotype and the standardization of CEC and CEP enumeration strategies are highly desirable goals in order to exploit these cells as reliable biomarkers in oncology clinical trials.

Total Pages: 59-66 (8)

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