Chemokines, binding their various G protein-coupled receptors, lead the way for leukocytes in health and inflammation. Yet chemokine receptor expression is not limited to leukocytes. Accordingly, chemokines are remarkably pleiotropic molecules involved in a range of physiological as well as pathological processes. For example, the CXCR3 chemokine receptor is expressed on activated T lymphocytes, dendritic cells and natural killer cells, but also fibroblasts and smooth muscle, epithelial and endothelial cells. In men, these cells express either CXCR3A, its splice variant CXCR3B or a balanced combination of both. The CXCR3 ligands, activating both receptor variants, include CXCL4, CXCL4L1, CXCL9, CXCL10 and CXCL11. Upon CXCR3A activation these ELR-negative CXC chemokines mediate chemotactic and proliferative responses, for example in leukocytes. In contrast, CXCR3B induces anti-proliferative and anti-migratory effects, as exemplified by angiostatic effects on endothelial cells. Taken together, the unusual and versatile characteristics of CXCR3 and its ligands form the basis for their pertinent involvement in a myriad of diseases. In this review, we discuss the presence and function of all CXCR3 ligands in various malignant, angiogenic, infectious, inflammatory and other disorders. By extension, we have also elaborated on the potential therapeutic applicability of CXCR3 ligand administration or blockade, as well as their additional value as predictive or prognostic biomarkers. This review illustrates the multifunctional, intriguing character of the various CXCR3-binding chemokines.
Keywords: CXCR3; Chemokine; G protein-coupled receptor.
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