Placental growth factor and its receptor, vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-1: novel targets for stimulation of ischemic tissue revascularization and inhibition of angiogenic and inflammatory disorders

J Thromb Haemost. 2003 Jul;1(7):1356-70. doi: 10.1046/j.1538-7836.2003.00263.x.


In contrast to VEGF and its receptor VEGFR-2, PlGF and its receptor VEGFR-1 have been largely neglected and therefore their potential for therapy has not been previously explored. In this review, we describe the molecular properties of PlGF and VEGFR-1 and how this translates into an important role for PlGF in the angiogenic switch in pathological angiogenesis, by interacting with VEGFR-1 and synergizing with VEGF. PlGF was effective in the growth of new and stable vessels in cardiac and limb ischemia, through its action on different cell types (i.e. endothelial, smooth muscle and inflammatory cells and their precursors) that play a cardinal role in blood vessel formation. Accordingly, blocking its receptor VEGFR-1 with monoclonal antibodies (anti-VEGFR-1 mAb), expressed on al these cell types, successfully attenuated blood vessel formation during cancer, ischemic retinopathy and rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, while blocking this receptor was effective in reducing inflammatory disorders like atherosclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis, blocking the anti-angiogenic receptor VEGFR-2 was without effect. This indicates that in the latter diseases the beneficial effects of anti-VEGFR1 mAb were mainly due to its effect on inflammatory cells. Importantly, VEGFR-1 was also present on hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells, the precursors of inflammatory cells. Thus, these preclinical studies show proof-of-principle that PlGF and VEGFR-1 are promising therapeutic targets to treat angiogenesis and inflammation related disorders. Clinical trials will reveal whether this is also true for patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / metabolism
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / metabolism
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Inflammation*
  • Ischemia*
  • Models, Biological
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neovascularization, Physiologic / drug effects*
  • Placenta Growth Factor
  • Pregnancy Proteins / physiology*
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Receptor-1 / physiology*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • PGF protein, human
  • Pregnancy Proteins
  • Placenta Growth Factor
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Receptor-1