Review of angiogenesis in hepatocellular carcinoma

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Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a hypervascular tumor, and its vascularity is unique and greatly different from peripheral parenchyma of liver. Afferent and efferent vessels of HCC lesions come to differ as the lesion develops. The characteristic of the flow regulates the common style of metastasis. The portal tract of the HCC lesion is the first site of the intrahepatic metastasis, because cancer cells roll into the portal vein via efferent flow. On microscopic observation, HCC displays marked vascular abnormalities, arteriogenesis and capillarization. Arteriogenesis is defined as the growth of functional collateral arteries covered with smooth muscle cells from pre-existing arteries. Sinusoidal capillarization involves the transformation of fenestrated hepatic sinusoids into continuous capillaries. Several angiogenic factors have been reported, and some of them are studied as prognostic factors or target molecules of chemotherapeutic reagents. However, the mechanism of neovascularization during HCC development is still unclear. This review discusses the characteristics of angiogenesis in HCC and known angiogenic factors of HCC.

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