Neuropilins: novel targets for anti-angiogenesis therapies

Cell Adh Migr. 2007 Apr-Jun;1(2):56-61. doi: 10.4161/cam.1.2.4490. Epub 2007 Apr 25.


It is now well established that neuropilins (NRP1 and NRP2), first described as mediators of neuronal guidance, are also mediators of angiogenesis and tumor progression. NRPs are receptors for the class-3 semaphorin (SEMA) family of axon guidance molecules and also for the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) family of angiogenic factors. VEGF-NRP interactions promote developmental angiogenesis as shown in mouse knockout and zebrafish knockdown studies. There is also evidence that NRPs mediate tumor progression. For example, overexpression of NRP1 enhances tumor growth whereas NRP1 antagonists, such as soluble NRP1 and anti-NRP1 antibodies, inhibit tumor growth. Furthermore, some class-3 SEMAs acting via NRPs inhibit tumor angiogenesis, progression and metastasis. Clinical data suggest that high NRP levels correlate with poor prognosis and survival in a variety of cancer types. Taken together, these results suggest that NRPs are potentially valuable targets for new anti-cancer therapies. We analyze here the current knowledge on NRPs and their role in angiogenesis and tumor progression and enumerate strategies for targeting these receptors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Animals
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / blood supply
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / drug therapy*
  • Neuropilins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Neuropilins / genetics
  • Neuropilins / metabolism*
  • Semaphorins / metabolism


  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors
  • Neuropilins
  • Semaphorins