Publication Date



Communications in Biology


The growth of solid tumours relies on an ever-increasing supply of oxygen and nutrients that are delivered via vascular networks. Tumour vasculature includes endothelial cell lined angiogenesis and the less common cancer cell lined vasculogenic mimicry (VM). To study and compare the development of vascular networks formed during angiogenesis and VM (represented here by breast cancer and pancreatic cancer cell lines) a number of in vitro assays were utilised. From live cell imaging, we performed a large-scale automated extraction of network parameters and identified properties not previously reported. We show that for both angiogenesis and VM, the characteristic network path length reduces over time; however, only endothelial cells increase network clustering coefficients thus maintaining small-world network properties as they develop. When compared to angiogenesis, the VM network efficiency is improved by decreasing the number of edges and vertices, and also by increasing edge length. Furthermore, our results demonstrate that angiogenic and VM networks appear to display similar properties to road traffic networks and are also subject to the well-known Braess paradox. This quantitative measurement framework opens up new avenues to potentially evaluate the impact of anti-cancer drugs and anti-vascular therapies.


Antineoplastic Agents, Cell Line, Tumor, Endothelial Cells, Humans, Neovascularization, Pathologic



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