VEGF signalling inhibition-induced proteinuria: Mechanisms, significance and management

Eur J Cancer. 2010 Jan;46(2):439-48. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2009.11.001. Epub 2009 Dec 16.


Proteinuria is a dose-related side-effect occurring after inhibition of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) signalling and may reflect severe glomerular damage. The inhibition of the VEGF signalling axis induces downexpression or suppression of nephrin, an important protein for the maintenance of the glomerular slit diaphragm, sometimes leading to nephritic syndrome and/or glomerular thrombotic microangiopathy, the main-associated kidney disease. A MEDLINE search was carried out using the following criteria: (1) all MEDLINE listings as of 01-01-2000 with abstracts; (2) English language; and (3) Humans. The following phrases were used to query the database: (proteinuria) AND (anti-VEGF OR VEGF inhibition OR bevacizumab OR sunitinib OR sorafenib OR VEGF Trap OR axitinib OR pazopanib OR AZ 2171). The references of each article identified were carefully reviewed for additional reference. The incidence of mild and asymptomatic proteinuria ranges from 21% up to 63%, but heavy proteinuria has been reported in up to 6.5% of renal cell carcinoma patients. Although discontinuation of anti-VEGF agent induced significant reduction, persistence of proteinuria is common. Although angiotensinconverting-enzyme inhibitors and/or angiotensin receptor blockers seem to be preferred, no specific recommendation for an antiproteinuric agent can be made in this context because there are no controlled studies addressing the subject. Periodic monitoring of urinary protein should be carried out in anti-VEGF-treated patients and patients showing proteinuria need special referral to nephrologists.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors / adverse effects*
  • Down-Regulation
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / chemically induced
  • Kidney Diseases / chemically induced
  • Kidney Glomerulus
  • Podocytes / metabolism
  • Proteinuria / chemically induced*
  • Proteinuria / therapy
  • Signal Transduction
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / antagonists & inhibitors*


  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A