Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in seizures: a double-edged sword

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2004:548:57-68. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4757-6376-8_4.


Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a vascular growth factor which induces angiogenesis (the development of new blood vessels), vascular permeability, and inflammation. In brain, receptors for VEGF have been localized to vascular endothelium, neurons, and glia. VEGF is upregulated after hypoxic injury to the brain, which can occur during cerebral ischemia or high-altitude edema, and has been implicated in the blood-brain barrier breakdown associated with these conditions. Given its recently-described role as an inflammatory mediator, VEGF could also contribute to the inflammatory responses observed in cerebral ischemia. After seizures, blood-brain barrier breakdown and inflammation is also observed in brain, albeit on a lower scale than that observed after stroke. Recent evidence has suggested a role for inflammation in seizure disorders. We have described striking increases in VEGF protein in both neurons and glia after pilocarpine-induced status epilepticus in the brain. Increases in VEGF could contribute to the blood-brain barrier breakdown and inflammation observed after seizures. However, VEGF has also been shown to be neuroprotective across several experimental paradigms, and hence could potentially protect vulnerable cells from damage associated with seizures. Therefore, the role of VEGF after seizures could be either protective or destructive. Although only further research will determine the exact nature of VEGF's role after seizures, preliminary data indicate that VEGF plays a protective role after seizures.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / physiology*
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation / physiology*
  • Epilepsy / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / physiology*


  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A