The blood vessels formed in asthmatic airways are involved in inflammatory and airway remodeling processes in chronic asthma. Vascular endothelial cell growth factor (VEGF) and angiopoietin-1 (Ang-1) are primary angiogenic growth factors, involved in the formation of such blood vessels. VEGF has been reported to contribute to non-specific airway hyper-responsiveness, have chemotactic effects on eosinophils, and enhance airway smooth muscle cell proliferation. Furthermore, Th2 cells have receptors for VEGF, and Th2-associated cytokines increase VEGF production. There are reports that elevated levels of VEGF correlates with the severity of asthma. Ang-1 has been shown to induce pro-inflammatory effects such as eosinophil chemotaxis via tie-2 receptors. Reports indicate ang-1 contribution to increased secretion of matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2) and decreased secretion of tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinase-2 (TIMP-2). However, Ang-1 has also been shown to exhibit several anti-inflammatory properties such as suppressing expression of adhesion molecules, blocking vascular permeability and eosinophil chemotaxis induced by VEGF. These findings support the notion that apart from their roles in blood vessels formation, these angiogenic growth factors are directly involved in the pathogenesis of chronic asthma. This paper reviews individual and combined roles of VEGF and Ang-1. The potential therapeutic applications involving these factors are also discussed.
Keywords: Airway Remodeling, angiopoietin-1, asthma, chronic asthma, vascular endothelial growth factor
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