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Recent studies suggest that aspartic proteinase Cathepsin D may be implicated in the process of tumor invasion and metastasis. In fact several in vitro observations showed that this proteinase may facilitate the spread of neoplastic cells through different mechanisms related to its proteolytic activity by acting at different levels of the metastatic cascade. Cathepsin D may promote tumor cell proliferation by acting as an autocrine mitogen through the activation of latent forms of growth factors or by interacting with growth factor receptors. The enzyme was also shown to be able to degrade in vitro extracellular matrix and to activate latent precursors forms of other proteinases involved in the invasive steps of the metastatic process. Although unequivocal proof of its active role in promoting these processes also in vivo has not been obtained so far recent clinical observations which showed a positive correlation between level of expression of Cathepsin D activity and malignant progression of some human neoplasms further support this hypothesis. These findings warrant extensive experimental and clinical studies to better assess the pathophysiological role of this acid proteinase in the spread of neoplastic diseases and suggest new and more selective therapeutic approaches to the treatment of human neoplasms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-240
Number of pages6
JournalAnticancer Research
Publication statusPublished - 1992

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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