Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a pleiotropic growth factor that is crucially involved in neurovascular remodeling in the ischemic brain. VEGF promotes angiogenesis, protects ischemic neurons from injury, has potent anti-inflammatory actions, and promotes brain plasticity, in addition to enhancing the recruitment and proliferation of neural precursor cells. These broad actions make VEGF interesting as a model molecule that allows understanding endogenous responses of the brain to injuries. However, several studies indicate that the route and timing of VEGF administration are crucial for the effects of VEGF on ischemic brain tissue. Hence, systemic VEGF delivery in the very acute stroke phase may exacerbate brain damage because of the promotion of blood-brain barrier breakdown that inevitably accompanies vascular growth. Future studies aimed at the promotion of neurovascular remodeling in ischemic stroke should carefully take into consideration pleiotropic actions of angiogenic growth factors beyond vascular growth.
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