Tumor Vascularization

Tumor cells cannot survive without nutrients and oxygen. Therefore, cancer growth beyond a limited size needs to be accompanied by vascularization, which is induced by a variety of molecular mechanisms.

Already early during cancer progression, angiogenic processes are activated when cancer cells become hypoxic, because they are not connected to the blood circulation system. In response to hypoxia, tumor cells and surrounding stroma cells begin to secrete pro-angiogenic growth factors such as VEGF, which induces blood vessel formation through several mechanisms. This "angiogenic switch" allows tumors to grow and proliferate without the initial limitation. Apart from oxygen and nutrient delivery, newly formed vessels also provide waste transport and promote metastasis by facilitating the dissemination of cancer cells to distant sites. Therefore, it is not surprising that much effort has been invested in the research of anti-angiogenic therapies, many of which have been approved for several types of cancer. However, the success of these treatments has been only moderate so far.

Since tumor vascularization is an important process during cancer progression and tumor maintenance, which can also serve as a therapeutic target, angiogenesis assays are a widely used tool in cancer research.

Lugano, R., Ramachandran, M., & Dimberg, A. (2020). Tumor angiogenesis: causes, consequences, challenges and opportunities. Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences. 10.1007/S00018-019-03351-7
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Please find more detailed information about the planning, conduction, and data analysis of angiogenesis assays here.


Experimental Workflow

ibidi Solutions for Angiogenesis Assays

The µ-Slide 15 Well 3D and the µ-Slide 15 Well 3D Glass Bottom guarantee the convenient observation of tube formation on any inverted microscope without gel meniscus.


All common 3D gel matrices, such as the ibidi Collagen Type I, Matrigel®, and similar hydrogels, work within the ibidi angiogenesis assay. In addition, the slide's design helps to reduce costs drastically by minimizing the amount of gel needed to only 10 µl.


For large-scale angiogenesis experiments, we provide the µ-Plate 96 Well 3D. Its highest optical quality and the well-in-a-well technology ensure brilliant cell visualization without gel meniscus formation, requiring only 10 µl of gel per well.


The ibidi Stage Top Incubators provide physiological conditions for live cell imaging on every standard inverted microscope and are ideal for angiogenesis assays over longer periods of time. They include actively controlled humidity as well as CO2 and O2 control. They can be used with single slides (e.g., the µ-Slide 15 Well 3D) as well as with multiwell plates (e.g., the µ-Plate 96 Well 3D)


Selected References

Tube formation assay to analyze angiogenesis in triple-negative breast cancer using the µ-Plate 96 Well 3D

Wang, Y., Wu, S., Zhu, X., Zhang, L., Deng, J., Li, F., Guo, B., Zhang, S., Wu, R., Zhang, Z., Wang, K., Lu, J., & Zhou, Y. (2020). LncRNA-encoded polypeptide ASRPS inhibits triple-negative breast cancer angiogenesis. Journal of Experimental Medicine. 10.1084/JEM.20190950/132618
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Tube formation assay to test for angiogenesis in ovarian cancer in the µ-Plate 96 Well 3D

Noh, K., Bach, D. H., Choi, H. J., Kim, M. S., Wu, S. Y., Pradeep, S., Ivan, C., Cho, M. S., Bayraktar, E., Rodriguez-Aguayo, C., Dasari, S. K., Stur, E., Mangala, L. S., Lopez-Berestein, G., & Sood, A. K. (2020). The hidden role of paxillin: localization to nucleus promotes tumor angiogenesis. Oncogene. 10.1038/s41388-020-01517-3
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Tube formation assay to analyze angiogenesis in lung cancer using the µ-Slide 15 Well 3D

Xu, Z., Guo, C., Ye, Q., Shi, Y., Sun, Y., Zhang, J., Huang, J., Huang, Y., Zeng, C., Zhang, X., Ke, Y., & Cheng, H. (2021). Endothelial deletion of SHP2 suppresses tumor angiogenesis and promotes vascular normalization. Nature Communications. 10.1038/s41467-021-26697-8
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