Biology and therapeutic targeting of vascular endothelial growth factor A

Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2023 Nov;24(11):816-834. doi: 10.1038/s41580-023-00631-w. Epub 2023 Jul 25.


The formation of new blood vessels, called angiogenesis, is an essential pathophysiological process in which several families of regulators have been implicated. Among these, vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGFA; also known as VEGF) and its two tyrosine kinase receptors, VEGFR1 and VEGFR2, represent a key signalling pathway mediating physiological angiogenesis and are also major therapeutic targets. VEGFA is a member of the gene family that includes VEGFB, VEGFC, VEGFD and placental growth factor (PLGF). Three decades after its initial isolation and cloning, VEGFA is arguably the most extensively investigated signalling system in angiogenesis. Although many mediators of angiogenesis have been identified, including members of the FGF family, angiopoietins, TGFβ and sphingosine 1-phosphate, all current FDA-approved anti-angiogenic drugs target the VEGF pathway. Anti-VEGF agents are widely used in oncology and, in combination with chemotherapy or immunotherapy, are now the standard of care in multiple malignancies. Anti-VEGF drugs have also revolutionized the treatment of neovascular eye disorders such as age-related macular degeneration and ischaemic retinal disorders. In this Review, we emphasize the molecular, structural and cellular basis of VEGFA action as well as recent findings illustrating unexpected interactions with other pathways and provocative reports on the role of VEGFA in regenerative medicine. We also discuss clinical and translational aspects of VEGFA. Given the crucial role that VEGFA plays in regulating angiogenesis in health and disease, this molecule is largely the focus of this Review.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Biology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Placenta Growth Factor
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A* / genetics
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A* / metabolism


  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Placenta Growth Factor
  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors