1Department of Surgery, Oncology and Gastroenterology, University of Padova, 35128 Padova, Italy.
2Azienda Ospedaliera di Padova, 35128 Padova, Italy.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common primary liver malignancy. The hypervascular nature of the majority of HCCs and the peculiar vascular derangement occurring during liver carcinogenesis underscore the importance of angiogenesis in the development and progression of these tumors. Indeed, several angiogenic molecular pathways have been identified as deregulated in HCC. The hypervascular nature and the peculiar vascularization of HCC, as well as deregulated angiogenic pathways, represent major therapeutic targets. To a large extent, intra-arterial locoregional treatments (transarterial-(chemo)embolization) rely on tumor ischemia caused by embolization of tumor feeding arteries, even though this may represent the "primum movens" of tumor recurrence through the activation of neoangiogenesis. Considering systemic therapies, the currently available tyrosine kinase inhibitors (sorafenib, regorafenib, cabozantinib and lenvatinib) and monoclonal antibodies (ramucirumab and bevacizumab, in combination with the anti-PD-L1, atezolizumab) primarily target, among others, angiogenic pathways. Considering the importance of angiogenesis in the pathogenesis and treatment of liver cancer, in this paper, we aim to review the role of angiogenesis in HCC, addressing the molecular mechanisms, available antiangiogenic therapies and prognostic biomarkers in patients receiving these treatments.