Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) was identified and isolated as an endothelial cell-specific mitogen that has the capacity to induce physiological and pathological angiogenesis. It is a homodimeric glycoprotein with a molecular weight of approximately 45 kDa. It is the key mediator of angiogenesis (the formation of new blood vessels), and binds two VEGF receptors, which are expressed on vascular endothelial cells. In healthy humans, VEGF promotes angiogenesis in embryonic development and is important in wound healing in adults. VEGF is the key mediator of angiogenesis in cancer, in which it is up-regulated by oncogene expression, a variety of growth factors and also hypoxia.
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