Heparanase-2 and syndecan-1 in colon cancer: the ugly ducklings or the beautiful swans?

Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2008 Aug;20(8):716-8. doi: 10.1097/MEG.0b013e3282fc2660.


Syndecan expression, or the lack thereof by tumor cells, has been associated with poor prognosis in several types of cancer, including colorectal cancer. Syndecan is a heparan sulfate proteoglycan involved in tumor adhesion, invasion, and metastasis. In addition, the expression of the enzyme heparanase by cancer cells correlates with malignant transformation and metastasis. Given the prominent role of syndecan and heparanase in physiological and pathological processes, they are promising molecular targets in the development of diagnostic methods and drugs for cancer and other diseases. A study in this issue of the European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology reports the expression of syndecan-1 (Syn-1) and HPA2 in human colorectal cancer samples. These results confirm earlier observations that Syn-1 is downregulated by colorectal carcinoma cells but raise questions about its prognostic value. This study is also the first report on the upregulation of HPA2 in human cancer samples. HPA2 and Syn-1 expression by colorectal cancer tumor cells and the possible implications in disease progression are discussed.

Publication types

  • Comment
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Glucuronidase / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism
  • Syndecan-1 / metabolism*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • SDC1 protein, human
  • Syndecan-1
  • heparanase
  • Glucuronidase