Cathepsin S: therapeutic, diagnostic, and prognostic potential

Biol Chem. 2015 Aug;396(8):867-82. doi: 10.1515/hsz-2015-0114.


Cathepsin S is a member of the cysteine cathepsin protease family. It is a lysosomal protease which can promote degradation of damaged or unwanted proteins in the endo-lysosomal pathway. Additionally, it has more specific roles such as MHC class II antigen presentation, where it is important in the degradation of the invariant chain. Unsurprisingly, mis-regulation has implicated cathepsin S in a variety of pathological processes including arthritis, cancer, and cardiovascular disease, where it becomes secreted and can act on extracellular substrates. In comparison to many other cysteine cathepsin family members, cathepsin S has uniquely restricted tissue expression and is more stable at a neutral pH, which supports its involvement and importance in localised disease microenvironments. In this review, we examine the known involvement of cathepsin S in disease, particularly with respect to recent work indicating its role in mediating pain, diabetes, and cystic fibrosis. We provide an overview of current literature with regards cathepsin S as a therapeutic target, as well as its role and potential as a predictive diagnostic and/or prognostic marker in these diseases.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arthritis / diagnosis
  • Arthritis / metabolism
  • Arthritis / pathology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / diagnosis
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / metabolism
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / pathology
  • Cathepsins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Prognosis


  • Cathepsins
  • cathepsin S