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Cancer Metastasis Rev. 2007 Dec;26(3-4):443-52.

VEGF signaling inhibitors: more pro-apoptotic than anti-angiogenic.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong.


The vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) family of polypeptide growth factors regulates a family of VEGF receptor (VEGFR) tyrosine kinases with pleiotropic downstream effects. Angiogenesis is the best known of these effects, but additional VEGF-dependent actions include increased vascular permeability, paracrine/autocrine growth factor release, enhancement of cell motility, and inhibition of apoptosis. In theory, therapeutic inhibition of angiogenesis should reduce tumor perfusion and thus increase tumor hypoxia and chemoresistance, but in clinical practice the VEGF antibody bevacizumab acts as a broad-spectrum chemosensitizer. Since VEGFR expression occurs in many tumor types, such chemosensitization is more readily explained by direct inhibition of tumor cell survival signals than by indirect stromal/vascular effects. The emerging model of anti-VEGF drug action being mediated primarily by tumoral (as distinct from endothelial) VEGFRs has clinically important implications for optimizing the anti-metastatic efficacy of this expanding drug class.

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