Members of the VEGF family, currently comprising five mammalian proteins, are major regulators of blood and lymphatic vessel development and growth. VEGF-A is essential for vasculogenesis and angiogenesis, whereas VEGF-C is required for the development of the lymphatic vasculature. Although not required for embryonic development, PlGF and VEGF-D likely play more subtle, modifying roles in the control of angiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis, respectively, or function under pathological conditions. However, VEGF-B has remained enigmatic since its discovery more than 15 years ago.

Our current models to study the effects of VEGF-B include both transgenic and knockout mice and rats. In addition, we use adeno-associated viral vectors to study VEGF-B gene transfer in adult animals.

We have recently shown that transgenic overexpression of VEGF-B in rat myocardium induces cardiac hypertrophy and growth of the epicardial and subendocardial coronary vessels. The hypertrophy is physiological in nature and does not involve hypertension. We are currently exploring the possibility for therapeutic use of VEGF-B in cardiovascular diseases.


Maija Bry, M.D., Maija.Bry (at)
Riikka Kivelä, PhD, Riikka.Kivela (at)
Kari Alitalo, Academy Professor, director of the Wihuri Research Institute, Kari.Alitalo (at)
Alitalo K in Pubmed ⊕ Opens in a new tab.