Direct and indirect regulation of the tumor immune microenvironment by VEGF

Yuqing Zhang, Rolf A. Brekken

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF) is the predominant angiogenic factor that is expressed in solid tumors. Besides its critical function in mediating tumor angiogenesis, multiple studies have demonstrated that VEGF also contributes to tumor immunosuppression. VEGF interferes with immune cell trafficking indirectly by promoting a vascular immune barrier through VEGF receptor (VEGFR) activity on endothelial cells. However, VEGFRs are also expressed on multiple immune cell types, including T cells (effector T cells, Tregs) and myeloid cells (DCs, TAMs, MDSCs), where VEGF can have direct effects on immune cell phenotype and function. Thus, it is not surprising that strategies targeting VEGF/VEGFRs have shown efficacy in alleviating tumor-associated immunosuppression and have been combined with immunotherapies, especially immune checkpoint blockade. In this review, we discuss the direct and indirect effects of VEGF on the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment with particular focus on the direct regulation of immune cells through VEGFR2 activity. We also summarize preclinical and clinical observations of combining antiangiogenesis agents with immunotherapies for the treatment of solid tumors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Leukocyte Biology
StateAccepted/In press - 2022


  • angiogenesis
  • immune regulation
  • tumor microenvironment
  • VEGF

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Cell Biology


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