The urokinase-receptor in infectious diseases

Infez Med. 2012;20 Suppl 2:13-8.


Cell migration through the extracellular matrix (ECM) or endothelial cells is a basic process in several physiological and pathological events, including the immune host response to pathogens, both in the case of innate and adaptive immunity. The urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA) receptor (uPAR) is a GPI-anchored cell-surface receptor largely expressed on most of leukocytes, including monocytes/macrophages, granulocytes, immature dendritic cells. uPAR has been detected also in soluble and cleaved forms, which are increased in several pathologies. uPAR focuses the proteolytic activity of its ligand, the serine-protease uPA, on the cell membrane, thus promoting localized plasminogen activation and allowing the cell to degrade surrounding ECM and to move across physical barriers. However, the discovery that uPAR can bind with high affinity a component of the ECM, vitronectin (VN), and associates to cell surface molecules to activate signalling pathways inside the cells, largely expanded the role that uPAR can play in cell proliferation/survival and adhesion/migration, which are crucial events for an efficient immune response to infectious agents. This review is focused on the expression and possible functions of the various forms of uPAR in infectious diseases.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Infections / immunology*
  • Urokinase-Type Plasminogen Activator / immunology*


  • Urokinase-Type Plasminogen Activator