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Distler J., Hirth A., Kurowska-Stolarska M., Gay R. E., Gay S., Distler O.
WHO Collaborating Center for Molecular Biology and Novel Therapeutic Strategies for Rheumatic Diseases University Hospital, Zurich, Switzerland
The vascular system that ensures an adequate blood flow is required to provide the cells with sufficient supply of nutrients and oxygen. Two different mechanisms of the formation of new vessels can be distinguished: vasculogenesis, the formation of the first primitive vascular plexus de novo and angiogenesis, the formation of new vessels from preexisting ones. Both processes are regulated by a delicate balance of pro- and anti-angiogenic factors. Physiologically, angiostatic mediators outweigh the angiogenic molecules and angiogenesis does not occur. Under certain conditions such as tumor formation or wound healing, the positive regulators of angiogenesis predominate and the endothelium becomes activated. Angiogenesis is initiated by vasodilatation and an increased permeability. After destabilization of the vessel wall, endothelial cells proliferate, migrate and form a tube, which is finally stabilized by pericytes and smooth muscle cells. Numerous soluble growth factors and inhibitors, cytokines and proteases as well as extracellular matrix proteins and adhesion molecules strictly control this multi-step process. The properties and interactions of angiogenic molecules such as VEGFs, FGFs, angiopoietins, PDGF, angiogenin, angiotropin, HGF, CXC chemokines with ELR motif, PECAM-1, integrins and VE-cadherin as well as angiostatic key players such as angiostatin, endostatin, thrombospondin, CXC chemokines without ELR motif, PEDF are discussed in this review with respect to their molecular impact on angiogenesis.