Introduction: CD47 is a ubiquitously expressed cell surface receptor that serves as a counter-receptor for SIRPα in recognition of self by the innate immune system. Independently, CD47 also functions as an important signaling receptor for regulating cell responses to stress.
Areas covered: We review the expression, molecular interactions, and pathophysiological functions of CD47 in the cardiovascular and immune systems. CD47 was first identified as a potential tumor marker, and we examine recent evidence that its dysregulation contributes to cancer progression and evasion of anti-tumor immunity. We further discuss therapeutic strategies for enhancing or inhibiting CD47 signaling and applications of such agents in preclinical models of ischemia and ischemia/reperfusion injuries, organ transplantation, pulmonary hypertension, radioprotection, and cancer.
Expert opinion: Ongoing studies are revealing a central role of CD47 for conveying signals from the extracellular microenvironment that limit cell and tissue survival upon exposure to various types of stress. Based on this key function, therapeutics targeting CD47 or its ligands thrombospondin-1 and SIRPα could have broad applications spanning reconstructive surgery, engineering of tissues and biocompatible surfaces, vascular diseases, diabetes, organ transplantation, radiation injuries, inflammatory diseases, and cancer.