Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences vol:902 pages:249-62; discussion 262-4
The formation of new blood vessels (angiogenesis) is essential for embryonic development and contributes to the pathogenesis of numerous disorders. In contrast, insufficient angiogenesis may lead to tissue ischemia and failure. The recent discovery of novel angiogenic molecules has initiated efforts to improve tissue perfusion via therapeutic angiogenesis. However, rational design of such treatment strategies mandates a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms of angiogenesis. In this brief review, the role of a prime angiogenic candidate, namely vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and its homologues, in physiological and pathological angiogenesis will be discussed with particular attention to myocardial ischemia and heart failure. In addition, a novel interaction between the junctional protein vascular endothelial-cadherin (VE-cadherin) and VEGF, essential for the endothelial survival function of VEGF, will be reviewed.