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Cell and Tissue Research

, Volume 347, Issue 1, pp 177–186

First Online: 25 August 2011Received: 22 May 2011Accepted: 18 July 2011


Recent evidence has demonstrated that endothelial cells can have a remarkable plasticity. By a process called Endothelial-to-Mesenchymal Transition EndMT endothelial cells convert to a more mesenchymal cell type that can give rise to cells such as fibroblasts, but also bone cells. EndMT is essential during embryonic development and tissue regeneration. Interestingly, it also plays a role in pathological conditions like fibrosis of organs such as the heart and kidney. In addition, EndMT contributes to the generation of cancer associated fibroblasts that are known to influence the tumor-microenvironment favorable for the tumor cells. EndMT is a form of the more widely known and studied Epithelial-to-Mesenchymal Transition EMT. Like EMT, EndMT can be induced by transforming growth factor TGF-β. Indeed many studies have pointed to the important role of TGF-β receptor-Smad signaling and downstream targets, such as Snail transcriptional repressor in EndMT. By selective targeting of TGF-β receptor signaling pathological EndMT may be inhibited for the therapeutic benefit of patients with cancer and fibrosis.

KeywordsAngiogenesis Cancer associated fibroblasts Endothelial cells EndMT Fibrosis Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva TGF-β AbbreviationsActRActivin receptor

ALKActivin receptor-like kinase

BMPBone Morphogenetic Protein

CAFCancer-Associated Fibroblast


EMTEpithelial-to-Mesenchymal Transition

EndMTEndothelial to Mesenchymal Transition

FOPFibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva

IdInhibitor of differentiation-DNA binding

IPFIdiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis

MIMyocardial infarction


PAI-1Plasminogen Activator Inhibitor-1

SMASmooth Muscle cell Actin

SmadSmall phenotype and Mothers Against Decapentaplegic related protein

TGF-βTransforming Growth Factor-β

TGFβRTransforming Growth Factor-β receptor

VE-CadherinVascular-endothelial cadherin

Research in our lab on TGF-β in angiogenesis is supported by the Dutch Cancer Society to LAvM, Netherlands Institute for Regenerative Medicine NIRM, the Le Ducq foundation and the Centre for Biomedical Genetics.

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Autor: Laurens A. van Meeteren - Peter ten Dijke


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