Bevacizumab-induced hypertension: pathogenesis and management

BioDrugs. 2011 Jun 1;25(3):159-69. doi: 10.2165/11590180-000000000-00000.


Bevacizumab, a recombinant humanized monoclonal antibody targeting the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), has been approved in the US as first- and second-line treatment of colorectal cancer and in the first-line treatment of advanced non-small cell lung cancer. The US FDA has also granted approval for the use of bevacizumab for the treatment of patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma and glioblastoma, and in Europe, it is also approved in metastatic breast cancer in combination with paclitaxel. Bevacizumab is under investigation in the first-line and adjuvant setting of almost all types of solid tumors. However, anti-VEGF therapy is associated with significant toxicity. The incidence of grade 3-4 hypertension differs among the various malignancies in which bevacizumab is administered, possibly because of drug interactions with co-administered chemotherapy drugs. Hypertension appears to be dose dependent, and it is under investigation as a biomarker for VEGF inhibition efficacy. There are three main theories concerning the underlying pathophysiology: (i) the nitric oxide theory; (ii) the renal impairment theory; and (iii) the pre-eclampsia-like theory. The correct evaluation of the levels of hypertension is of critical importance and home blood pressure monitoring seems to be the most effective technique. A baseline assessment and follow-up monitoring of blood pressure is considered necessary for all patients receiving bevacizumab. There are no evidence-based recommendations regarding which antihypertensives are more appropriate for the management of bevacizumab-related hypertension. It has been suggested that the benefits from antihypertensive treatment are largely independent of the drugs used, as long as they adequately lower blood pressure. Randomized prospective studies are necessary to provide data that will be useful for the development of specific guidelines for the management of bevacizumab-related hypertension. In the meantime, treatment of anti-VEGF-induced hypertension should follow current guidelines for diagnosis and management of hypertension in general.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors / adverse effects*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / adverse effects*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Bevacizumab
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / drug therapy
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Glioblastoma / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / chemically induced*
  • Hypertension / drug therapy
  • Kidney Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Lung Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / antagonists & inhibitors*


  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Bevacizumab