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Cell Adh Migr. 2009 Oct-Dec;3(4):322-7. Epub 2009 Oct 3.

VEGF-B: a survival, or an angiogenic factor?

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  • 1National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA. lixur@nei.nih.gov


Despite its early discovery and high sequence homology to the other VEGF family members, the biological function of VEGF-B remained debatable for a long time, and VEGF-B has received little attention from the field thus far. Recently, we and others have found that (1) VEGF-B is a potent survival factor for different types of cells by inhibiting apoptosis via suppressing the expression of BH3-only protein and other apoptotic/cell death-related genes. (2) VEGF-B has a negligible role in inducing blood vessel growth in most organs. Instead, it is critically required for blood vessel survival. VEGF-B targeting inhibited pathological angiogenesis by abolishing blood vessel survival in different animal models. (3) Using different types of neuro-injury and neurodegenerative disease models, VEGF-B treatment protected endangered neurons from apoptosis without inducing undesired blood vessel growth or permeability. Thus, VEGF-B is the first member of the VEGF family that has a potent survival/anti-apoptotic effect, while lacking a general angiogenic activity. Our work thus advocates that the major function of VEGF-B is to act as a "survival", rather than an "angiogenic" factor and implicates a therapeutic potential of VEGF-B in treating different types of vascular and neurodegenerative diseases.

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