Osteopontin in Immune-mediated Diseases

J Dent Res. 2015 Dec;94(12):1638-45. doi: 10.1177/0022034515605270. Epub 2015 Sep 4.


Since its initial identification as one of the genes most highly upregulated upon T-cell activation, osteopontin (or Eta-1, as it was designated then) has been demonstrated to have many roles in the regulation of the immune response on multiple levels. It contributes to the development of immune-mediated and inflammatory diseases, and it regulates the host response to infection. In some cases, the mechanisms of these effects have been elucidated, while other mechanistic functions of the protein remain obscure. The protein itself makes these analyses complex, since it binds to a series of different integrins, and in addition to its classically secreted form, an intracellular form of osteopontin has been identified, which participates in several aspects of immune regulation. In this review, we focus on the role of osteopontin in a series of immune-related diseases, particularly those where significant advances have been made in recent years: multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and related diseases, Sjögren's disease, colitis, and 1 area of inflammatory pathology, alcoholic and nonalcoholic liver diseases. A recurring theme in these diseases is a link between osteopontin and pathogenic T cells, particularly T helper 17 cells, where osteopontin produced by dendritic cells supports IL-17 expression, contributing to pathology. In addition, a role for osteopontin in B-cell differentiation is becoming clear. In general, osteopontin contributes to pathology in these diseases, but there are examples where it has a protective role; deciphering the mechanisms underlying these differences and the specific receptors for osteopontin will be a research challenge for the future. Aside from its newly discovered role in the development of Sjögren's disease, the role of osteopontin in inflammatory conditions in the oral cavity is still poorly understood. Elucidation of this role will be of interest.

Keywords: B cells; OPN; Th17; autoimmunity; immunity; integrins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Immune System Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / physiopathology
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / physiopathology
  • Multiple Sclerosis / physiopathology
  • Osteopontin / physiology*
  • Sjogren's Syndrome / physiopathology


  • Osteopontin