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Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor VEGF Harmful Effects

Written by Joe Cohen, BS | Last updated:

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VEGF plays a role in heart disease, cancer, chronic inflammation, depression, tissue oxygenation, cognitive function, kidney disease, and macular degeneration. VEGF can be harmful at high or low levels.

What is VEGF?

VEGF (Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor) is a protein that initiates blood vessel formation.

The Good


Helps Oxygenate Tissue (by Creating New Blood Vessels)

Cells which are not getting oxygen (from either problems with blood flow or problems with overworked cells) produce “hypoxia-inducible factor” which stimulates the release of VEGF [1].

VEGF helps create new blood vessels [1, 22].

VEGF leads to the creation of blood vessels in the unborn baby [3].

VEGF makes blood vessels bigger which means more blood flow [4].

Part of the mechanism by which it leads to new blood vessel formation is by increasing MMPs [5].

Histamine, a natural compound found in the body and in many foods, can also enhance VEGF production, and in turn, promote the formation of more blood vessels [6].

Can Benefit Heart Disease (by Creating New Blood Vessels)

The VEGF gene can be injected into cells to make them produce more VEGF [7].

This will make new capillaries grow and will help bypass blocks in blood vessels caused by plaque [7].

Helps Immune Function

VEGF outside the blood vessels attracts immune fighter cells [8].

VEGF builds lymph vessels, which are important for immune cells as they move through your body, looking for dangerous bacteria, viruses, and fungi [9].

The negative to this is that it can increase inflammation.

Protects the Brain

F1.large (4)

VEGF can help prevent brain impairments by improving neuron function and viability [10].

Exercise and high levels of VEGF in adolescents led to better spatial better memory (11).

It can also help prevent diabetes-related memory loss [12].

By increasing blood flow, VEGF can help prevent neurodegeneration and ALS in animal models. People with genes that cause low VEGF are at higher risk for ALS [13].

The Bad


F1.large (3)

May Increase Inflammation by Activating Microglia

VEGF is capable of activating microglia, which can contribute to inflammation [14].

Leads To Holes In Blood Vessels Making Them Leakier

VEGF removes molecules that make blood vessel cells stick to each other (like different sections of a pipe are held together with screws). This makes blood vessels leaky [15].

VEGF can increase the permeability of the blood-brain barrier [16].

Contributes to the Spread of Cancer

VEGF builds blood vessels, which increases blood supply to cancer cells to allow them to grow at a high rate [17].

By making it easier for cancer cells to grow, it makes it harder to destroy cancer cells [17].

Worsens Some Autoimmune Diseases

VEGF causes fluid to leak out of blood vessels by making them leaky [18].

This pinches nerves and causes more inflammation which makes rheumatoid arthritis worse [18].

Blood levels of VEGF correlate with disease activity in a large number of autoimmune diseases and fall with the use of standard therapy.

There is considerable evidence in systemic lupus erythematosus and multiple sclerosis, and it’s believed that VEGF contributes to these disorders [19].

Makes Diabetic Retinopathy and Macular Degeneration Worse

During diabetes, the cells of the retina don’t get enough oxygen, which leads to VEGF release and more capillary formation [20].

During age-related macular degeneration, cells at the back of the eye release VEGF because they are damaged by oxidizing molecules [21]. This causes new blood vessel formation [21].

These new blood vessels are fragile and can burst, leading to blood leaking out and damaging the back of the eye where light is transformed into a picture [20].

Causes Kidney Damage

VEGF builds blood vessels in the kidneys [22].

Kidney cells, which are filters through which fluid from blood is sieved through eventually cannot take that much fluid coming through them and are destroyed [22].

This leads to everything going through the filter as it is now destroyed [22].

This kills kidney cells and makes the urine have things it shouldn’t have like protein [22].

VEGF changes can indicate early-onset pre-eclampsia which can cause miscarriages [23].

Contributes to Depression

Higher levels of VEGF were found in people with depression [24].

This is due to the fact that VEGF influences the level of neurotrophins in the brain. VEGF can also mimic the actions of antidepressants, causing them to not work (25).

Activates Matrix Metalloproteinases (MMPs)

MMPs increase inflammation in the body and contribute to a variety of diseases.

Inhibiting VEGF

  • Oxygen
  • Andrographis (in-vitro) [26]
  • Curcumin [27]
  • Tea/EGCG (found in green tea) [28]
  • Anthocyanins (found in berries, grapes, eggplants, sweet potato, mango, etc.)
  • Fish oil/DHA
  • Polyphenols (found in tea, olive oil)
  • Luteolin (found in broccoli, pepper, thyme, etc.) [29]
  • Lycopene (found in tomatoes, beans, asparagus, etc.) [30]
  • Ubiquinol [31]
  • Naringenin (found in grapefruit) [32]
  • Myricetin (found in sweet potato, currants, cranberries, etc. ) [33]

Increasing VEGF

VEGF on SelfDecode

Genes for VEGF

SelfDecode has a variety of SNPs for VEGF, including:

  1. RS10434 (VEGFA)
  2. RS1570360 (VEGFA)
  3. RS2146323 (VEGFA)
  4. RS25648 (VEGFA)
  5. RS3024994 (VEGFA)
  6. RS3025000 (VEGFA)
  7. RS3025010 (VEGFA)
  8. RS3025020 (VEGFA)
  9. RS3025035 (VEGFA)
  10. RS3025039 (VEGFA)
  11. RS833061 (VEGFA)
  12. RS833068 (VEGFA)
  13. RS833069 (VEGFA)

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About the Author

Joe Cohen, BS

Joe Cohen, BS

As a kid, Joe suffered from inflammation, brain fog, fatigue, digestive problems, mood and other issues that were poorly understood in both conventional and alternative medicine. Frustrated by the lack of good information and tools, Joe decided to embark on a journey of self-experimentation and self-learning to improve his health--something that has since become known as “biohacking”. With thousands of experiments and pubmed articles under his belt, Joe founded SelfHacked, the resource that was missing when he needed it. SelfHacked now gets millions of monthly readers. Joe is a thriving entrepreneur, author and speaker. He is the CEO and founder of SelfDecode. His mission is to help people gain access to the most up-to-date, unbiased, and science-based ways to optimize their health.


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