Cell and Tissue Research

, Volume 314, Issue 1, pp 5–14 | Cite as

VEGF and PlGF: two pleiotropic growth factors with distinct roles in development and homeostasis

  • Marc Tjwa
  • Aernout Luttun
  • Monica Autiero
  • Peter Carmeliet


Blood vessels are crucial for normal development and growth by providing oxygen and nutrients. As shown by genetic targeting studies in mice, zebrafish and Xenopus blood vessel formation (or angiogenesis) is a multistep process, which is highly dependent on angiogenic growth factors such as VEGF, the founding member of the VEGF family. VEGF binds to the tyrosine kinase receptors VEGFR-1 and VEGFR-2, and loss of VEGF or its receptors results in abnormal angiogenesis and lethality during development. In contrast, PlGF, another member of this family, binds only to VEGFR-1, and appears to be crucial exclusively for pathological angiogenesis in the adult. However, the expression of VEGFR-1 and VEGFR-2 on non-vascular cells suggests additional biological properties for these growth factors. Indeed, the VEGF family and its receptors determine development and homeostasis of many organs, including the respiratory, skeletal, hematopoietic, nervous, renal and reproductive system, independent of their vascular role. These new insights broaden the activity spectrum of these "angiogenic" growth factors, and may have therapeutic implications when using these growth factors for vascular and/or non-vascular purposes.


Vascular endothelial growth factor Placental growth factor VEGF receptors Signal transduction tyrosine kinase Angiogenesis Non-vascular targets 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marc Tjwa
    • 1
  • Aernout Luttun
    • 1
  • Monica Autiero
    • 1
  • Peter Carmeliet
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.The Center for Transgene Technology and Gene Therapy, Flanders Interuniversity Institute for BiotechnologyUniversity of LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  2. 2.The Center for Transgene Technology and Gene Therapy, Flanders Interuniversity Institute for BiotechnologyKU LeuvenLeuvenBelgium

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