Contraindications of VEGF-based therapeutic angiogenesis: effects on macrophage density and histology of normal and ischemic brains

Vascul Pharmacol. 2006 May;44(5):316-25. doi: 10.1016/j.vph.2006.01.008. Epub 2006 Mar 10.


Therapeutic angiogenesis by vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is advocated as a promising treatment strategy for brain ischemic stroke. However, data in the literature demonstrating the benefit of therapeutic angiogenesis are contradictory. In this paper, we describe the effects of non-angiogenic and angiogenic doses of VEGF165 on macrophage density and histology of normal and ischemic brains of adult rats. VEGF165 was administered intra-arterially for 7 days following temporary occlusion of the middle cerebral artery. In contrast to ischemic brains treated with non-angiogenic doses of VEGF165 which showed preserved neuropil and reduced numbers of macrophages, ischemic brains treated by an angiogenic dose showed phagocytized neuropil and high macrophage density. Though neither non-angiogenic nor angiogenic doses caused macrophage infiltration in normal brains, damage of the brain matrix occurred with the angiogenic dose. These results suggest an angiogenic dose of VEGF165 injures the nervous tissue rather than promote recovery. Angiogenesis by VEGF monotherapy for ischemic stroke should be viewed with caution, or avoided. Since our data show intravascular administration of VEGF165 does not cause macrophage inflammation, in contrast to reports in the literature whereby VEGF165 was applied directly to the brain, our findings also indicate the relationships between VEGF, angiogenesis, and macrophage inflammation are governed by the route VEGF is administered to the brain.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / blood supply
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain Ischemia / drug therapy*
  • Brain Ischemia / pathology
  • Contraindications
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Infarction, Middle Cerebral Artery / drug therapy*
  • Infarction, Middle Cerebral Artery / pathology
  • Infusion Pumps, Implantable
  • Macrophages / pathology*
  • Male
  • Neovascularization, Physiologic / drug effects
  • Neuropil / pathology
  • Neuroprotective Agents* / administration & dosage
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Recombinant Proteins* / administration & dosage
  • Recombinant Proteins* / genetics
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A* / administration & dosage
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A* / genetics


  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • VEGFA protein, human
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A