Purpose of the review: The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is a receptor tyrosine kinase with a wide implication in tumor biology, wound healing and development. Besides acting as a growth factor receptor activated by ligands such as EGF, the EGFR can also be transactivated and thereby mediate cross-talk with different signaling pathways. The aim of this review is to illustrate the Janus-faced function of the EGFR in the vasculature with its relevance for vascular biology and disease.
Recent findings: Over recent years, the number of identified signaling partners of the EGFR has steadily increased, as have the biological processes in which the EGFR is thought to be involved. Recently, new models have allowed investigation of EGFR effects in vivo, shedding some light on the overall function of the EGFR in the vasculature. At the same time, EGFR inhibitors and antibodies have become increasingly established in cancer therapy, providing potential therapeutic tools for decreasing EGFR signaling.
Summary: The EGFR is a versatile signaling pathway integrator associated with vascular homeostasis and disease. In addition to modulating basal vascular tone and tissue homeostasis, the EGFR also seems to be involved in proinflammatory, proliferative, migratory and remodeling processes, with enhanced deposition of extracellular matrix components, thereby promoting vascular diseases such as hypertension or atherosclerosis.