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J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2004 Jun;24(6):693-702.

Neuroprotection of ischemic brain by vascular endothelial growth factor is critically dependent on proper dosage and may be compromised by angiogenesis.

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Neural Engineering Program, Huntington Medical Research Institutes, Pasadena, California, USA.


Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is currently considered a potential pharmacologic agent for stroke therapy because of its strong neuroprotective and angiogenic capacities. Nonetheless, it is unclear how neuroprotection and angiogenesis by exogenous VEGF are related and whether they are concurrent events. In this study, the authors evaluated by stereology the effect of VEGF on neuronal and vascular volume densities of normal and ischemic brain cortices of adult male Sprague-Dawley rats. Ischemia was induced by a 4-hour occlusion of the middle cerebral artery. Low, intermediate, and high doses of VEGF165 were infused through the internal carotid artery for 7 days by an indwelling osmotic pump. The low and intermediate doses, which did not induce angiogenesis, significantly promoted neuroprotection of ischemic brains and did not damage neurons of normal brains. In contrast, the high dose that induced angiogenesis showed no neuroprotection of ischemic brains and damaged neurons of normal brains. These findings suggest that in vivo neuroprotection of ischemic brains by exogenous VEGF does not necessarily occur simultaneously with angiogenesis. Instead, neuroprotection may be greatly compromised by doses of VEGF capable of inducing angiogenesis. Stroke intervention efforts attempting to induce neuroprotection and angiogenesis concurrently through VEGF monotherapy should be approached with caution.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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