A double-edged sword: The role of VEGF in wound repair and chemoattraction of opportunist pathogens

Eric Birkenhauer, Suresh Neethirajan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Wound healing is a complex process essential to repairing damaged tissues and preventing infection. Skin is the first line of defense, a chief physical barrier to microbe entry. Wound healing is a physical rebuilding process, but at the same time it is an inflammatory event. In turn, molecules for wound repair are secreted by fibroblasts and others present at the wound site. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a critical cytokine that exhibits chemoattractant properties, recruiting other immune cells to the site. Although generally beneficial, VEGF may also act as a chemoattractant for invading microorganisms, such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa. P. aeruginosa is problematic during wound infection due to its propensity to form biofilms and exhibit heightened antimicrobial resistance. Here, we explored the influence of VEGF gradients (in a microfluidic device wound model) on the motility and chemotactic properties of P. aeruginosa. At lower concentrations, VEGF had little effect on motility, but as the maximal concentration within the gradient increased, P. aeruginosa cells exhibited directed movement along the gradient. Our data provide evidence that while beneficial, VEGF, in excess, may aid colonization by P. aeruginosa. This highlights the necessity for the efficient resolution of inflammation. Understanding the dynamics of wound colonization may lead to new/enhanced therapeutics to hasten recovery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7159-7172
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 30 Mar 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Biofilms
  • Chemotaxis
  • Microfluidics
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • Vascular endothelial growth factor
  • Wound bacteria

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'A double-edged sword: The role of VEGF in wound repair and chemoattraction of opportunist pathogens'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this