Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor and Spinal Cord Injury Pain

Document Type



Brain and Mind Institute


Abstract Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-A mRNA was previously identified as one of the significantly upregulated transcripts in spinal cord injured tissue from adult rats that developed allodynia. To characterize the role of VEGF-A in the development of pain in spinal cord injury (SCI), we analyzed mechanical allodynia in SCI rats that were treated with either vehicle, VEGF-A isoform 165 (VEGF165), or neutralizing VEGF165-specific antibody. We have observed that exogenous administration of VEGF165 increased both the number of SCI rats that develop persistent mechanical allodynia, and the level of hypersensitivity to mechanical stimuli. Our analysis identified excessive and aberrant growth of myelinated axons in dorsal horns and dorsal columns of chronically injured spinal cords as possible mechanisms for both SCI pain and VEGF165-induced amplification of SCI pain, suggesting that elevated endogenous VEGF165 may have a role in the development of allodynia after SCI. However, the neutralizing VEGF165 antibody showed no effect on allodynia or axonal sprouting after SCI. It is possible that another endogenous VEGF isoform activates the same signaling pathway as the exogenouslyadministered 165 isoform and contributes to SCI pain. Our transcriptional analysis revealed that endogenous VEGF188 is likely to be the isoform involved in the development of allodynia after SCI. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to suggest a possible link between VEGF, nonspecific sprouting of myelinated axons, and mechanical allodynia following SCI.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Journal of Neurotrauma