Chemerin was isolated as the natural ligand of the G protein-coupled receptor ChemR23. Chemerin acts as a chemotactic factor for leukocyte populations expressing ChemR23, particularly immature plasmacytoid dendritic cells, but also immature myeloid DCs, macrophages and natural killer cells. Chemerin is expressed by epithelial and non-epithelial cells as an inactive precursor, present at nanomolar concentrations in plasma. Processing of the precursor C-terminus is required for generating bioactive forms of chemerin. Various proteases mediate this processing, including neutrophil serine proteases and proteases from coagulation and fibrinolytic cascades. ChemR23-expressing cells are recruited in human inflammatory diseases, such as psoriasis and lupus. In animal models, both pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory roles of chemerin have been reported. Recently, two other receptors for chemerin were described, GPR1 and CCRL2, but their functional relevance is largely unknown. Both chemerin and ChemR23 are also expressed by adipocytes, and the emerging role of chemerin as an adipokine regulating lipid and carbohydrate metabolism is an area of intense research.
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