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Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

VEGF-B is dispensable for blood vessel growth but critical for their survival, and VEGF-B targeting inhibits pathological angiogenesis.


PMID 19369214

Abstract

VEGF-B, a homolog of VEGF discovered a long time ago, has not been considered an important target in antiangiogenic therapy. Instead, it has received little attention from the field. In this study, using different animal models and multiple types of vascular cells, we revealed that although VEGF-B is dispensable for blood vessel growth, it is critical for their survival. Importantly, the survival effect of VEGF-B is not only on vascular endothelial cells, but also on pericytes, smooth muscle cells, and vascular stem/progenitor cells. In vivo, VEGF-B targeting inhibited both choroidal and retinal neovascularization. Mechanistically, we found that the vascular survival effect of VEGF-B is achieved by regulating the expression of many vascular prosurvival genes via both NP-1 and VEGFR-1. Our work thus indicates that the function of VEGF-B in the vascular system is to act as a "survival," rather than an "angiogenic" factor and that VEGF-B inhibition may offer new therapeutic opportunities to treat neovascular diseases.