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Mast cell contribution to angiogenesis related to tumour progression


Prof. Domenico Ribatti, Department of Human Anatomy and Histology, Piazza Giulio Cesare, 11, Policlinico, I-70124 Bari, Italy. E-mail:


Summary The current wisdom is that tumours are endowed with an angiogenic capability and that their growth, invasion and metastasis are angiogenesis dependent. It is now well documented that neoplastic cells are influenced by their microenvironment and vice versa. The specific organ microenvironment determines the extent of cancer cell proliferation, angiogenesis, invasion and survival. Tumour cells are surrounded by an infiltrate of inflammatory cells, namely lymphocytes, neutrophils, macrophages and mast cells (MCs), which communicate via a complex network of intercellular signalling pathways, mediated by surface adhesion molecules, cytokines and their receptors. This review article summarizes: (i) the MC mediators involved in angiogenesis; (ii) the experimental evidence concerning the role played by MCs in angiogenesis; (iii) the list of solid and haematological tumours in which a close relationship between angiogenesis, tumour progression and MCs has been demonstrated; (iv) the circumstances in which MCs are a critical source of angiogenic factors in vivo, and in such cases, the signals that regulate their production and secretion that need to be determined as a prelude to the elaboration of new therapeutic strategies associated with MC presence and activation.