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Nat Med. 2001 May;7(5):569-74.

The neurotransmitter dopamine inhibits angiogenesis induced by vascular permeability factor/vascular endothelial growth factor.

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Departments of Pathology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


Angiogenesis has an essential role in many important pathological and physiological settings. It has been shown that vascular permeability factor/vascular endothelial growth factor (VPF/VEGF), a potent cytokine expressed by most malignant tumors, has critical roles in vasculogenesis and both physiological and pathological angiogenesis. We report here that at non-toxic levels, the neurotransmitter dopamine strongly and selectively inhibited the vascular permeabilizing and angiogenic activities of VPF/VEGF. Dopamine acted through D2 dopamine receptors to induce endocytosis of VEGF receptor 2, which is critical for promoting angiogenesis, thereby preventing VPF/VEGF binding, receptor phosphorylation and subsequent signaling steps. The action of dopamine was specific for VPF/VEGF and did not affect other mediators of microvascular permeability or endothelial-cell proliferation or migration. These results reveal a new link between the nervous system and angiogenesis and indicate that dopamine and other D2 receptors, already in clinical use for other purposes, might have value in anti-angiogenesis therapy.

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