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BioMed Research International
Volume 2014, Article ID 947513, 24 pages
Review Article

Roles of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

1Institute of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Lisbon, Avenida Professor Egas Moniz, 1649-028 Lisbon, Portugal
2Instituto de Medicina Molecular (IMM), Translational Clinical Physiology Unit, Avenida Professor Egas Moniz, 1649-028 Lisbon, Portugal
3Department of Neurosciences, Hospital Santa Maria, Centro Hospitalar Lisboa Norte, Avenida Professor Egas Moniz, 1649-028 Lisbon, Portugal

Received 23 January 2014; Accepted 24 March 2014; Published 29 April 2014

Academic Editor: Deise M. F. Mendonça

Copyright © 2014 Ana Catarina Pronto-Laborinho et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal devastating neurodegenerative disorder, involving progressive degeneration of motor neurons in spinal cord, brainstem, and motor cortex. Riluzole is the only drug approved in ALS but it only confers a modest improvement in survival. In spite of a high number of clinical trials no other drug has proved effectiveness. Recent studies support that vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), originally described as a key angiogenic factor, also plays a key role in the nervous system, including neurogenesis, neuronal survival, neuronal migration, and axon guidance. VEGF has been used in exploratory clinical studies with promising results in ALS and other neurological disorders. Although VEGF is a very promising compound, translating the basic science breakthroughs into clinical practice is the major challenge ahead. VEGF-B, presenting a single safety profile, protects motor neurons from degeneration in ALS animal models and, therefore, it will be particularly interesting to test its effects in ALS patients. In the present paper the authors make a brief description of the molecular properties of VEGF and its receptors and review its different features and therapeutic potential in the nervous system/neurodegenerative disease, particularly in ALS.