Tumour vascularization plays an important role in tumour development and progression. Tumour endothelial cells (TECs) form the inner lining of tumour blood vessels. TECs are mainly derived from endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs); however, it is increasingly evident that in some tumours, TECs are also transformed from cancer stem cells. TECs are different from normal endothelial cells (NECs) in many aspects. On the one hand, the hierarchy of TECs is disorganized, leading to perturbed blood flow, and creating a hypoxic microenvironment in the tumour tissues, which stimulates tumour blood vessels to grow into the tumour tissues. However, the normal endothelial structure is intact, and blood flow is smooth. On the other hand, TECs are more dependent on glycolysis, mitochondrial respiration, and fatty acid metabolism, so there are many potential targets for anti-angiogenesis therapy. TECs and NECs differ in their gene expressions; biological function experiments have demonstrated that TECs and NECs have different phenotypes. This is essentially caused by gene mutations in TECs. Previous reports mostly described TECs as endothelial cells covering the inner surface of tumour blood vessels. Up to now, there is no clear definition of a group of cells as TECs. Based on this, we summarize the characteristics of TECs as follows. (1) They are derived from EPCs or tumour stem cells. (2) They have up-regulation of glycolysis, mitochondrial respiration, and fatty acid metabolism. (3) They secrete different cytokines. (4) Some TECs highly express epidermal growth factor receptor and interleukin-4 receptor. (5) They are distributed around or in tumours and play an important role in the processes of tumour growth, development, and metastasis.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere36
JournalClinical and Translational Discovery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • anti-angiogenesis therapy
  • cytokines
  • genes
  • metabolism
  • necroptosis
  • normal endothelial cells
  • organ-on-chip
  • origins
  • structure
  • tumour endothelial cells


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