It is well accepted that new blood vessels are essential for cancer growth and metastasis. In fact, one of the main goals of anti-angiogenic therapy is to starve tumors by cutting off their vascular supply. While considerable progress has been made in this area, the underlying mechanisms that regulate vessel growth are still not fully understood.
Recent studies have shown that a class of short peptides, known as angiotensins, play a key role in regulating vascular growth. Angiotensins are produced by endothelial cells and smooth muscle cells in response to various stimuli, including growth factors and cytokines. They bind to specific receptors on these cell types and trigger a signaling cascade that leads to the formation of new blood vessels.
Interestingly, angiotensins can also promote vessel maturation and stabilization. This is important because newly formed blood vessels are often unstable and prone to leakiness. By promoting vessel maturation, angiotensins help to ensure that newly formed vessels are able to function properly and do not leak.
The role of angiotensins in regulating vascular growth is just beginning to be understood. However, it is clear that they play a central role in this process and could potentially be targeted therapeutically to treat cancer or other diseases characterized by abnormal vessel growth.