Physiological Reviews

Role and Therapeutic Potential of VEGF in the Nervous System

Carmen Ruiz de Almodovar, Diether Lambrechts, Massimiliano Mazzone, Peter Carmeliet


The development of the nervous and vascular systems constitutes primary events in the evolution of the animal kingdom; the former provides electrical stimuli and coordination, while the latter supplies oxygen and nutrients. Both systems have more in common than originally anticipated. Perhaps the most striking observation is that angiogenic factors, when deregulated, contribute to various neurological disorders, such as neurodegeneration, and might be useful for the treatment of some of these pathologies. The prototypic example of this cross-talk between nerves and vessels is the vascular endothelial growth factor or VEGF. Although originally described as a key angiogenic factor, it is now well established that VEGF also plays a crucial role in the nervous system. We describe the molecular properties of VEGF and its receptors and review the current knowledge of its different functions and therapeutic potential in the nervous system during development, health, disease and in medicine.

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