Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF, VEGFA) is critical for blood vessel growth in the developing and adult nervous system of vertebrates. Several recent studies demonstrate that VEGF also promotes neurogenesis, neuronal patterning, neuroprotection and glial growth. For example, VEGF treatment of cultured neurons enhances survival and neurite growth independently of blood vessels. Moreover, evidence is emerging that VEGF guides neuronal migration in the embryonic brain and supports axonal and arterial co-patterning in the developing skin. Even though further work is needed to understand the various roles of VEGF in the nervous system and to distinguish direct neuronal effects from indirect, vessel-mediated effects, VEGF can be considered a promising tool to promote neuronal health and nerve repair.
Keywords: VEGF; angiogenic niche; blood vessel; endothelial cell; glia; neurogenesis; neuron.