The term Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) relates to the naturally occurring protein that leads to the formulation of blood vessels. The protein also plays a huge role in the creation of lymph vessels. It primarily aids the blood supply to oxygen-deprived cells and tissues.
VEGF was first identified in small animals back in the early 1980s and has had a huge impact in our scientific understanding of the human body. In particular, it has an important relation in cancers and other serious diseases in regards to both growth and treatment.
VEGF plays an important role in human development, even before we are born. It helps promote the healthy formulation of new blood vessels while the foetus develops in the womb. This is crucial for a perfectly developed baby.
The protein continues to influence the body throughout our lives. From recovering the body with the growth of new vessels after physical injuries to helping muscles grow after exercise, VEGF is constantly present. On a similar note, it is a vital protein for bypassing blocked vessels.
Those processes are known as vasculogenesis. However, overexposure to VEGF can be accelerate the growth of tumours and various cancers. This is because those diseases need new blood vessels.
VEGF can be broken into five different types: The family includes:
VEGF-A: A glycosylated mitogen can promote cell migration and induce angiogenesis, vasculogenesis and endothelial cell growth. Crucial for the formation of new blood vessels.
VEGF-B: Unlike VEGF-B, this protein is primarily linked to the maintenance of newly formed blood vessels. It also plays a role in transporting fatty acids to the heart and skeleton.
VEGF-C: The protein’s main role is within lymphangiogenesis, It influences LEC cells promoting growth and migration while also regulating permeability.
VEGF-D: VEGF-D is vital for endothelial cell growth. It creates several binding forms that activate with the VEGFR-2 and VEGFR-3 receptors.
PGF: Placental Growth Factor protein-coding genes are particularly crucial during during embryogenesis. Low levels are also seen in various organs and is needed for angiogenesis.
For the growth of new blood vessels to occur, the body needs a trigger. This is why the VEGF proteins are so crucial for the healthy restoration of oxygen or nutrient-deprived cells and tissues.
All five types stimulate a cellular response through three tyrosine kinase VEGF receptors, with VEGF-A and VEGF-C each connecting to two. The VEGFR-2 receptor to mediate most cellular responses to VEGF while VEGFR-1 acts as a decoy receptor. VEGFR-3 mediates lymphangiogenesis.
Members of the VEGF family continue to interact with one another in healthy formulations of blood vessels. Meanwhile, they can be crucial in a whole host of diseases and medical conditions.
VEGF-A is linked to roles in types of arthritis, diabetic retinopathy, breast cancer and age-related macular degeneration. Meanwhile, VEGF-D is commonly found in sufferers of angiosarcoma. Given that VEGF can play a huge role in those health problems, it is often an area to be targeted by medical treatments.
Those anti-VEGF drugs have been used for over a decade.