Infantile haemangioma (IH) is the most frequent childhood tumour. Although it is benign and self-limiting, severe complications can arise due to localisation and fast tumour growth. Management and therapy of IH has changed greatly after 2008 with propranolol. However, the pathogenesis remains elusive. This update provides an overview of all possible mechanisms currently considered. We discuss the possibility that several mechanisms act together, although local hypoxia seems to be important. Clinically, in about half of the cases, an IH is preceded by an anaemic macula (local ischaemia) or a so-called precursor lesion. Laboratory findings indicate stabilisation and an increased transcription activity of hypoxia-inducible factor 1 alpha (HIF1α), leading to upregulation of its downstream target genes (such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)), which normally occurs in cases of hypoxia. Conclusion: Three main hypotheses have been proposed, namely (1) the theory of tissue hypoxia, (2) the theory of embolization of placental endothelial cells and (3) the theory of increased angiogenic and vasculogenic activity.

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European Journal of Pediatrics
Department of Pediatric Surgery

Janmohamed, S., Madern, G., de Laat, P. C. J., & Oranje, A. (2015). Educational paper: Pathogenesis of infantile haemangioma, an update 2014 (part I). European Journal of Pediatrics, 174(1), 97–103. doi:10.1007/s00431-014-2403-6