Chemokines are chemotactic cytokines which recruit leukocytes to inflammatory sites. They also affect tumor development and metastasis by acting as growth factor, by attracting pro- or anti-tumoral leukocytes or by influencing angiogenesis. Platelet factor-4 (CXCL4/PF-4) was the first chemokine shown to inhibit angiogenesis. CXCL4L1/PF-4var, recently isolated from thrombin-stimulated platelets, differing from authentic CXCL4/PF-4 in three carboxy-terminally located amino acids, was found to be more potent than CXCL4/PF-4 in inhibiting angiogenesis and tumor growth. Both glycosaminoglycans (GAG) and CXCR3 are implicated in the activities of the PF-4 variants. This report reviews the current knowledge on the role of CXCL4/PF-4 and CXCL4L1/PF-4var in physiological and pathological processes. In particular, the role of CXCL4/PF-4 in cancer, heparin-induced thrombocytopenia and atherosclerosis is described.
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