Vascular factors, angiogenesis and biliary tract disease.
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PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Recent studies have brought to light that angiogenesis and the expression of pro-angiogenic factors such as vascular endothelial growth factors (VEGFs) participate in the pathogenesis of biliary tract diseases. This review summarizes recent progress that has been accomplished in the field, which expands our understanding of the relationship between vascular growth and the biliary tract, particularly the molecular mechanisms that underlie the pathogenesis of biliary tract diseases. RECENT FINDINGS: Angiogenesis and the expression of vascular factors play a key role in the pathogenesis of primary biliary cirrhosis, cholangiocarcinoma, liver cysts, and in the progression of biliary fibrosis in animal models. Inhibition of angiogenesis limits fibrosis in animal models, whereas the bile acid, taurocholate, has protective effects in animal models of bile duct and peribiliary vascular plexus damage. SUMMARY: A widening body of information indicates that the expression of pro-angiogenic factors such as VEGFs and angiogenesis play an important role in a variety of biliary tract diseases. Further characterization of the link between angiogenesis and vascular growth factor expression will help in elucidating the mechanisms regulating the pathogenesis of biliary tract diseases and in devising new treatment approaches for these devastating diseases.