Growth factor antagonists for the treatment of diabetic vascular complications

R. G. Tilton, R. A.F. Dixon, T. A. Brock

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Diabetic vascular disease is characterised by altered vascular reactivity and blood flow, hyperpermeability, hyperproliferative responses, and increased extracellular matrix deposition in tissues that are sites of complications. These vascular functional and structural changes have been linked to excessive glucose metabolism in target organs via at least three pathophysiological mechanisms, including increased sorbitol (polyol) pathway activity, increased non-enzymatic glycation of vascular wall proteins, and increased protein kinase C (PKC) activity. These potential mechanisms of glucose toxicity remain the subject of intense scientific investigation, and therapies targeting each of them are being evaluated in clinical trials. It is becoming increasingly clear that excessive production of growth factors provides a common denominator linking these diverse mechanisms of glucose toxicity to the functional and structural vascular alterations associated with diabetes. Increased expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) has been linked to increased metabolism of glucose via the sorbitol pathway, to non-enzymatic glycation, and to increased PKC activity, and appears to modulate the hyperpermeability and hyperproliferative responses of diabetes. Consequently, because of the unmet medical need and market size, numerous pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies have initiated research programmes evaluating growth factor antagonists as a potential therapeutic approach for treating complications associated with diabetic vascular disease. However, before growth factor antagonists can enter clinical testing, a number of important issues must be clarified, including the physiological effect of chronic growth factor inhibition, which appears to be necessary for ameliorating chronic vascular deterioration of diabetes, and administration routes, especially for protein-based therapies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1671-1684
Number of pages14
JournalExpert Opinion on Investigational Drugs
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1997


  • Angiogenesis
  • Diabetic vascular complications
  • Fibroblast growth factor
  • Growth factor antagonist
  • Insulin-like growth factor
  • Platelet-derived growth factor
  • Retinopathy
  • Vascular endothelial growth factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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