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Prog Retin Eye Res. 2008 Jul;27(4):331-71. doi: 10.1016/j.preteyeres.2008.05.001. Epub 2008 May 28.

Vascular endothelial growth factor in eye disease.

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Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN, USA.


Collectively, angiogenic ocular conditions represent the leading cause of irreversible vision loss in developed countries. In the US, for example, retinopathy of prematurity, diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration are the principal causes of blindness in the infant, working age and elderly populations, respectively. Evidence suggests that vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a 40kDa dimeric glycoprotein, promotes angiogenesis in each of these conditions, making it a highly significant therapeutic target. However, VEGF is pleiotropic, affecting a broad spectrum of endothelial, neuronal and glial behaviors, and confounding the validity of anti-VEGF strategies, particularly under chronic disease conditions. In fact, among other functions VEGF can influence cell proliferation, cell migration, proteolysis, cell survival and vessel permeability in a wide variety of biological contexts. This article will describe the roles played by VEGF in the pathogenesis of retinopathy of prematurity, diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration. The potential disadvantages of inhibiting VEGF will be discussed, as will the rationales for targeting other VEGF-related modulators of angiogenesis.

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