A number of vascular growth factors have been shown to affect the vasculature. Blood vessels are made up of endothelial cells (EC) and, in the case of larger blood vessels, smooth muscle cells as well. FGF and VEGF stimulate endothelial cell proliferation and migration. HB-EGF stimulates smooth muscle cell proliferation and migration. These vascular growth factors bind to heparin sulfate proteoglycans (HSPG), an important mediator of vascular growth factor activity.
Basic FGF was isolated and purified by Shing and Klagsbrun (Science 1984) as an EC mitogen and promoter of angiogenesis.
HB-EGF was purified and cloned by Higashiyama and Klagsbrun (Science 1991). It is a transmembrane protein with many functions that is cleaved to release the soluble form of HB-EGF, an active mitogen.
VEGF was purified by Ferrara and colleagues (1989). It is the major growth factor involved in physiological and pathological (cancer, retinopathy) angiogenesis. VEGF acts via three tyrosine kinase receptors and neuropilin (NRP). Different VEGF domains bind the various receptors.