Abstract

Over the past two decades, the treatment of cancer has been revolutionised by the highly successful introduction of novel molecular targeted therapies and immunotherapies, including small-molecule kinase inhibitors and monoclonal antibodies that target angiogenesis by inhibiting vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) signaling pathways. Despite their anti-angiogenic and anti-cancer benefits, the use of VEGF inhibitors (VEGFi) and other tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) has been hampered by potent vascular toxicities especially hypertension and thromboembolism. Molecular processes underlying VEGFi-induced vascular toxicities still remain unclear but inhibition of endothelial NO synthase (eNOS), reduced nitric oxide (NO) production, oxidative stress, activation of the endothelin system, and rarefaction have been implicated. However, the pathophysiological mechanisms still remain elusive and there is an urgent need to better understand exactly how anti-angiogenic drugs cause hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases (CVDs). This is especially important because VEGFi are increasingly being used in combination with other anti-cancer dugs, such as immunotherapies (immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs)), other TKIs, drugs that inhibit epigenetic processes (histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor) and poly (adenosine diphosphate-ribose) polymerase (PARP) inhibitors, which may themselves induce cardiovascular injury. Here, we discuss vascular toxicities associated with TKIs, especially VEGFi, and provide an up-to-date overview on molecular mechanisms underlying VEGFi-induced vascular toxicity and cardiovascular sequelae. We also review the vascular effects of VEGFi when used in combination with other modern anti-cancer drugs.

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