VEGF ligands and receptors: implications in neurodevelopment and neurodegeneration

Cell Mol Life Sci. 2013 May;70(10):1763-78. doi: 10.1007/s00018-013-1283-7. Epub 2013 Mar 12.


Intensive research in the last decade shows that the prototypic angiogenic factor vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) can have direct effects in neurons and modulate processes such as neuronal migration, axon outgrowth, axon guidance and neuronal survival. Depending on the neuronal cell type and the process, VEGF seems to exert these effects by signaling via different receptors. It is also becoming clear that other VEGF ligands such as VEGF-B, -C and -D can act in various neuronal cell types as well. Moreover, apart from playing a role in physiological conditions, VEGF and VEGF-B have been related to different neurological disorders. We give an update on how VEGF controls different processes during neurodevelopment as well as on its role in several neurodegenerative disorders. We also discuss recent findings demonstrating that other VEGF ligands influence processes such as neurogenesis and dendrite arborization and participate in neurodegeneration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Movement
  • Dendrites / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / metabolism
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / pathology
  • Neurogenesis
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Peripheral Nervous System / metabolism
  • Protein Isoforms / genetics
  • Protein Isoforms / metabolism
  • Receptors, Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor / metabolism*
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / genetics
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / metabolism*


  • Protein Isoforms
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Receptors, Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor