Progranulin (granulin-epithelin precursor, PC-cell-derived growth factor, acrogranin) mediates tissue repair and tumorigenesis

J Mol Med (Berl). 2003 Oct;81(10):600-12. doi: 10.1007/s00109-003-0474-3. Epub 2003 Aug 19.


Progranulin (Pgrn) is a pluripotent secreted growth factor that mediates cell cycle progression and cell motility. It activates the extracellular regulated kinases and phosphatidyl inositol-3 kinase signal cascades, among others, and increases expression of cyclins D and B. Structurally, it belongs to none of the well-established growth factor families. It regulates developmental events as diverse as the onset of cavitation in the preimplantation embryo and male-specific brain differentiation. During wound repair it promotes granulation and neovascularization. It regulates inflammation through a tripartite loop with secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor (SLPI) which protects pgrn from proteolysis, and elastase, which digests it to smaller peptides. Intact pgrn is anti-inflammatory through the inhibition of some of the actions of tumor necrosis factor, while the proteolytic peptides may stimulate the production of proinflammatory cytokines such as interleukin 8. Pgrn is highly expressed in aggressive cancer cell lines and clinical specimens including breast, ovarian, and renal cancers as well as gliomas. In experimental systems it confers an aggressive phenotype on poorly tumorigenic epithelial cancer cells. The malignancy of highly tumorigenic progranulin-expressing cell lines depends on the expression level of the pgrn gene since attenuating pgrn mRNA levels in pgrn-responsive cells greatly inhibits tumor progression. Given its actions in wound repair and tumorigenesis pgrn may prove a useful clinical target, both for prognosis and for therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / physiology*
  • Granulins
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Progranulins
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / physiopathology*


  • GRN protein, human
  • Granulins
  • Grn protein, mouse
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Progranulins