A. Laurenzana, G. Fibbi, F. Margheri, A. Biagioni, C. Luciani, M. Del Rosso and A. Chilla Pages 606 - 620 ( 15 )
Sprouting angiogenesis consists of the expansion and remodelling of existing vessels, where the vascular sprouts connect each other to form new vascular loops. Endothelial Progenitor Cells (EPCs) are a subtype of stem cells, with high proliferative potential, able to differentiate into mature Endothelial Cells (ECs) during the neovascularization process. In addition to this direct structural role EPCs improve neovascularization, also secreting numerous pro-angiogenic factors able to enhance the proliferation, survival and function of mature ECs, and other surrounding progenitor cells. While sprouting angiogenesis by mature ECs involves resident ECs, the vasculogenic contribution of EPCs is a high hurdle race. Bone marrowmobilized EPCs have to detach from the stem cell niche, intravasate into bone marrow vessels, reach the hypoxic area or tumour site, extravasate and incorporate into the new vessel lumen, thus complementing the resident mature ECs in sprouting angiogenesis. The goal of this review is to highlight the role of the main protease systems able to control each of these steps. The pivotal protease systems here described, involved in vascular patterning in sprouting angiogenesis, are the matrix-metalloproteinases (MMPs), the serineproteinases urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA) associated with its receptor (uPAR) and receptorassociated plasminogen/plasmin, the neutrophil elastase and the cathepsins. Since angiogenesis plays a critical role not only in physiological but also in pathological processes, such as in tumours, controlling the contribution of EPCs to the angiogenic process, through the regulation of the protease systems involved, could yield new opportunities for the therapeutic prospect of efficient control of pathological angiogenesis.
Angiogenesis, cathepsins, endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs), matrix-metalloproteinases (MMPs), proteases, uPA/uPAR.
Department of Experimental and Clinical Biomedical Sciences, Viale G.B. Morgagni, 50 50134 - Firenze, Italy.