University of Oulu

Salem A and Salo T (2021) Vasculogenic Mimicry in Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma—Time to Take Notice. Front. Oral. Health 2:666895. doi: 10.3389/froh.2021.666895

Vasculogenic mimicry in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma : time to take notice

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Author: Salem, Abdelhakim1,2; Salo, Tuula1,2,3,4
Organizations: 1Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Diseases, Clinicum, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
2Translational Immunology Research Program (TRIMM), Research Program Unit, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
3Cancer and Translational Medicine Research Unit, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
4Helsinki University Hospital, Helsinki, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.6 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Frontiers Media, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-12-17


Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is a group of common cancers characterized by a swift growth pattern, early metastasis, and dismal 5-year survival rates. Despite the recent advances in cancer management, the multimodality approach is not effective in eradicating HNSCC. Moreover, the clinical response to the antiangiogenic therapy remains considerably limited in HNSCC patients, suggesting that tumor perfusion can take place through other non-angiogenic pathways. Tumor cell-induced angiogenesis is one of the main hallmarks of cancer. However, at the end of the previous millennium, a new paradigm of tumor cell-associated neovascularization has been reported in human melanoma cells. This new phenomenon, which was named “vasculogenic mimicry” or “vascular mimicry” (VM), describes the ability of aggressively growing tumor cells to form perfusable, matrix-rich, vessel-like networks in 3-dimensional matrices in vitro. Similar matrix-rich VM networks were also identified in tissue samples obtained from cancer patients. To date, myriad studies have reported intriguing features of VM in a wide variety of cancers including HNSCC. We aim in this mini-review to summarize the current evidence regarding the phenomenon of VM in HNSCC—from the available detection protocols and potentially involved mechanisms, to its prognostic value and the present limitations.

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Series: Frontiers in oral health
ISSN: 2673-4842
ISSN-E: 2673-4842
ISSN-L: 2673-4842
Volume: 2
Article number: 666895
DOI: 10.3389/froh.2021.666895
Type of Publication: A2 Review article in a scientific journal
Field of Science: 3122 Cancers
Funding: Authors would like to acknowledge the funders of this study: The Minerva Foundation Institute for Medical Research; Cancer Society of Finland; Sigrid Jusélius Foundation; Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation; Helsinki University Central Hospital Research Funds.
Copyright information: © 2021 Salem and Salo. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.