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A review of vascular endothelial growth factor and its potential to improve functional outcomes following spinal cord injury


Spinal cord injuries (SCI) are traumatic events with limited treatment options. Following injury, the lesion site experiences a drastic change to both its structure and vasculature which reduces its ability for tissue regeneration. Despite the lack of clinical options, researchers are investigating therapies to induce neuronal regeneration. Cell-based therapies have long been assessed in the context of SCI to promote neuronal protection and repair. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) not only demonstrates this ability, but also demonstrates angiogenic potential to promote blood vessel formation. While there have been numerous animal studies investigating VEGF, further research is still warranted to pinpoint its role following SCI. This review aims to discuss the literature surrounding the role of VEGF following SCI and its potential in promoting functional recovery.

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Fig. 1: Angiogenic properties of VEGF.
Fig. 2: The events following a spinal cord injury can be divided into three phases, with the acute phase coinciding with initial injury, the sub-acute phase beginning just days later, and the chronic phase beginning up to over a year following injury.
Fig. 3: Mechanism of action.

Data availability

Data sharing not applicable to this article as no datasets were generated or analyzed during the current study.


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Figures 1 and 3 were created through the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.

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CZ and GK conceived the idea and were responsible for writing. CO and AKG were responsible for the literature search and data extraction. RJ and FM were responsible for manuscript editing. SG was responsible for conception and design of figures. MB supervised the project and edited the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Mohamad Bydon.

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Zamanian, C., Kim, G., Onyedimma, C. et al. A review of vascular endothelial growth factor and its potential to improve functional outcomes following spinal cord injury. Spinal Cord 61, 231–237 (2023).

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