Pathological aspects

Many cancer cell types, as well as their metastases, express high levels of CD44. Whereas some tumors, such as gliomas, exclusively display CD44s, other neoplasms, including brain metastases, gastrointestinal cancer, pancreatic adenocarcinoma, bladder cancer, uterine cervical cancer, breast cancer and non-Hodgkin's lymphomas, additionally and sometimes preferentially express CD44 variants. Hence, CD44, particularly its variants, may be used as diagnostic or prognostic markers of at least some human malignant diseases. Furthermore, it has been demonstrated in animal models that upon transfection with CD44s, or CD44v cDNA, nonmetastatic tumor cells acquire metastatic potential. In addition, injection of reagents interfering with CD44-ligand interaction (e.g. CD44s- or CD44v-specific mAb) inhibit local tumor growth and metastatic spread in murine species. In this context, CD44 may confer a growth advantage on some neoplastic cells, and consequently could be used as a target for cancer therapy. The functional significance of CD44 in malignant, autoimmune and infectious diseases, as well as in allergy, transplant rejection and graft-versus-host reaction, is yet to be established.

See also: Adhesion molecules; Glycosylation of immune system molecules; High endothelial venules;

Immunotherapy of tumors; Lymphocyte trafficking;

Motility of immune cells.

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