What is the VEGF test?
This test measures the amount of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in your blood. VEGF is a substance that helps encourage the growth of new blood vessels. Your body makes more VEGF in certain cases. For instance, if your tissues aren't getting enough oxygen, they may make more VEGF so that new blood vessels grow to bring in more oxygen. Your lungs contain VEGF because good blood flow is vital there.
But VEGF also plays a role in cancer growth. Cancers need an ample blood supply. As a tumor grows larger, its cells need more oxygen from the blood. The cancer encourages new blood vessels to grow to supply it with more blood and oxygen. Most tumors show higher levels of VEGF. Sometimes higher levels mean a lower chance of survival. In addition, VEGF may be important in the spread of cancer to other places within your body. Certain cancer treatments target VEGF. This test may be used to tell how well the treatments are working.
VEGF can also promote "leakiness" of blood vessels. This can lead to swelling in surrounding areas. This can be especially harmful during brain cancer because it can increase pressure within the skull and may lead to brain damage. Leaking blood vessels in the eye causing problems is also seen in age-related macular degeneration and eye changes from diabetes.
Normal concentrations of VEGF do not exclude the diagnosis of POEMS (polyneuropathy, organomegaly, endocrinopathy, monoclonal gammopathy, and skin changes) syndrome.
The Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) test is useful for:
Evaluation of patients with suspected POEMS (polyneuropathy, organomegaly, endocrinopathy, monoclonal gammopathy, and skin changes) syndrome, particularly in differentiating from other forms of polyneuropathy and monoclonal plasma cell disorders. Monitoring response to treatment in patients with a known diagnosis of POEMS syndrome.
More about VEGF:
VEGF stands for Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor. VEGF is a growth factor that promotes the growth of new blood vessels. The body makes VEGF in response to low oxygen levels, also known as hypoxia. Thus, when tissues are receiving too little oxygen rich blood flow, VEGF is produced to provide a better blood supply to the tissues. VEGF also increases the permeability or leakiness of blood vessels. In fact, one form of VEGF, VEGF-A was once known as vascular permeability factor. VEGF plays a role in cell metabolism, bone formation, and blood cell creation (hematopoiesis). Unfortunately, cancer cells also produce VEGF to help improve their own blood flow. Interestingly, cancer treatments have been developed to block the action of VEGF to starve cancerous tumors of blood flow.
VEGF is a prototype angiogenic factor, but recent evidence indicates that this growth factor also has direct effects on neural cells. Abnormal regulation of VEGF expression has now been implicated in several neurodegenerative disorders, including motoneuron degeneration.
Melincovici CS, Bosca AB, Susman S, Marginean M, Mihu C, Istrate M, Moldovan IM, Roman AL, Mihu CM. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) - key factor in normal and pathological angiogenesis. Rom J Morphol Embryol. 2018;59(2):455-467. PMID: 30173249.
Storkebaum E, Carmeliet P. VEGF: a critical player in neurodegeneration. J Clin Invest. 2004 Jan;113(1):14-8. doi: 10.1172/JCI20682. PMID: 14702101; PMCID: PMC300888.
Mateo I, Llorca J, Infante J, Rodríguez-Rodríguez E, Fernández-Viadero C, Peña N, Berciano J, Combarros O. Low serum VEGF levels are associated with Alzheimer's disease. Acta Neurol Scand. 2007 Jul;116(1):56-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0404.2006.00775.x. PMID: 17587256.
Isung, J., Aeinehband, S., Mobarrez, F. et al. Low vascular endothelial growth factor and interleukin-8 in cerebrospinal fluid of suicide attempters. Transl Psychiatry 2, e196 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1038/tp.2012.123
Isung J, Mobarrez F, Nordström P, Asberg M, Jokinen J. Low plasma vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) associated with completed suicide. World J Biol Psychiatry. 2012 Sep;13(6):468-73. doi: 10.3109/15622975.2011.624549. Epub 2011 Nov 18. PMID: 22098148.
Lambrechts D, Storkebaum E, Morimoto M, Del-Favero J, Desmet F, Marklund SL, Wyns S, Thijs V, Andersson J, van Marion I, Al-Chalabi A, Bornes S, Musson R, Hansen V, Beckman L, Adolfsson R, Pall HS, Prats H, Vermeire S, Rutgeerts P, Katayama S, Awata T, Leigh N, Lang-Lazdunski L, Dewerchin M, Shaw C, Moons L, Vlietinck R, Morrison KE, Robberecht W, Van Broeckhoven C, Collen D, Andersen PM, Carmeliet P. VEGF is a modifier of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in mice and humans and protects motoneurons against ischemic death. Nat Genet. 2003 Aug;34(4):383-94. doi: 10.1038/ng1211. PMID: 12847526.
Carmeliet P, Ferreira V, Breier G, Pollefeyt S, Kieckens L, Gertsenstein M, Fahrig M, Vandenhoeck A, Harpal K, Eberhardt C, Declercq C, Pawling J, Moons L, Collen D, Risau W, Nagy A. Abnormal blood vessel development and lethality in embryos lacking a single VEGF allele. Nature. 1996 Apr 4;380(6573):435-9. doi: 10.1038/380435a0. PMID: 8602241.
→ Low serum VEGF levels may be associated with Alzheimer's disease.
→ Low plasma vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) associated with completed suicide.
→ Low levels were related to an increased risk of ALS, at least in three European populations.
→ Reduction of VEGF levels by 50% is known to significantly impair angiogenesis (= the formation of new blood vessels).
→ Decreasing concentrations of VEGF overtime in a patient with poems syndrome (= a rare blood disorder that damages your nerves and affects other parts of your body.) may be consistent with a therapeutic response.
Low VEGF levels cause amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Low VEGF levels impair spinal cord perfusion and cause chronic ischemia of motoneurons, but also deprive these cells of vital VEGF-dependent survival and neuroprotective signals. Both mechanisms result in adult-onset progressive degeneration of motoneurons, with associated muscle weakness, paralysis, and death — as is typical in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
The mechanisms by which low VEGF levels reduce neural perfusion remain to be determined, but they might involve impaired vasoregulation. One possibility is that VEGF affects vascular tone by controlling the release of the vasorelaxant nitric oxide by endothelial cells (ECs). Alternatively, VEGF may be required for the normal functioning of perivascular autonomic nerves, which critically regulate vascular tone and, hence, tissue perfusion.
Despite this suggestive evidence, there is currently no formal proof that impaired neurogenesis due to low VEGF levels contributes to neurodegeneration.
VEGF stands for Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor, which is a signaling protein that plays a crucial role in the formation of new blood vessels (=angiogenesis) and the maintenance of existing blood vessels. It's important for processes such as wound healing and development, but it's also associated with various diseases, particularly those involving abnormal or excessive blood vessel growth.
Having high levels of VEGF can be indicative of several conditions, including:
Cancer: Many solid tumors require a blood supply to grow beyond a certain size. Tumor cells can produce excess VEGF to promote the growth of new blood vessels that supply nutrients and oxygen to the tumor, a process called angiogenesis. This allows the tumor to grow and potentially metastasize to other parts of the body.
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD): This is a leading cause of vision loss among the elderly. In the "wet" form of AMD, abnormal blood vessels develop under the retina and leak blood and fluid, causing damage to the macula, the central part of the retina responsible for sharp central vision. High VEGF levels are associated with the development of these abnormal blood vessels.
Diabetic Retinopathy: This is a complication of diabetes that affects the eyes. High blood sugar levels can damage blood vessels in the retina, leading to the growth of new, fragile blood vessels that can leak blood and cause vision problems. VEGF plays a role in this process.
Rheumatoid Arthritis: This autoimmune disease causes chronic inflammation, including in the synovium (the lining of the joints). Excess VEGF production can contribute to the development of new blood vessels in the inflamed tissue, further exacerbating the disease.
Certain Cardiovascular Conditions: VEGF is also involved in cardiac health. In some cases, increased VEGF levels might be associated with conditions like congestive heart failure or angina.
Pulmonary Hypertension: This condition involves high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs. Elevated VEGF levels can contribute to the abnormal growth of blood vessels in the lungs, which can worsen the condition.
Chronic Inflammatory Conditions: Inflammation is often associated with increased VEGF production, as the body tries to repair damaged tissues by promoting new blood vessel growth.
It's important to note that while elevated VEGF levels can be associated with these conditions, they are not the only factors at play. Additionally, VEGF is a complex molecule with multiple isoforms, and its effects can vary depending on the context. Medical professionals use measurements of VEGF levels along with other clinical information to assess the health of patients and guide treatment decisions. If you suspect you have high levels of VEGF or are concerned about a related medical condition, it's recommended to consult a healthcare professional for proper evaluation and guidance.
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