VEGF/VEGFR axis and its signaling in melanoma: Current knowledge toward therapeutic targeting agents and future perspectives

Life Sci. 2024 May 15:345:122563. doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2024.122563. Epub 2024 Mar 18.


Melanoma is responsible for most skin cancer-associated deaths globally. The progression of melanoma is influenced by a number of pathogenic processes. Understanding the VEGF/VEGFR axis, which includes VEGF-A, PlGF, VEGF-B, VEGF-C, and VEGF-D and their receptors, VEGFR-1, VEGFR-2, and VEGFR-3, is of great importance in melanoma due to its crucial role in angiogenesis. This axis generates multifactorial and complex cellular signaling, engaging the MAPK/ERK, PI3K/AKT, PKC, PLC-γ, and FAK signaling pathways. Melanoma cell growth and proliferation, migration and metastasis, survival, and acquired resistance to therapy are influenced by this axis. The VEGF/VEGFR axis was extensively examined for their potential as diagnostic/prognostic biomarkers in melanoma patients and results showed that VEGF overexpression can be associated with unfavorable prognosis, higher level of tumor invasion and poor response to therapy. MicroRNAs linking to the VEGF/VEGFR axis were identified and, in this review, divided into two categories according to their functions, some of them promote melanoma angiogenesis (promotive group) and some restrict melanoma angiogenesis (protective group). In addition, the approach of treating melanoma by targeting the VEGF/VEGFR axis has garnered significant interest among researchers. These agents can be divided into two main groups: anti-VEGF and VEGFR inhibitors. These therapeutic options may be a prominent step along with the modern targeting and immune therapies for better coverage of pathological processes leading to melanoma progression and therapy resistance.

Keywords: Angiogenesis; Biomarkers; Melanoma; MicroRNAs; Signaling pathways; Targeted therapy; VEGF; VEGFR.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Melanoma* / drug therapy
  • Melanoma* / pathology
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / metabolism
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Receptor-1 / metabolism


  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Receptor-1
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases