Progranulin and its biological effects in cancer

Med Oncol. 2017 Nov 7;34(12):194. doi: 10.1007/s12032-017-1054-7.


Cancer cells have defects in regulatory mechanisms that usually control cell proliferation and homeostasis. Different cancer cells share crucial alterations in cell physiology, which lead to malignant growth. Tumorigenesis or tumor growth requires a series of events that include constant cell proliferation, promotion of metastasis and invasion, stimulation of angiogenesis, evasion of tumor suppressor factors, and avoidance of cell death pathways. All these events in tumor progression may be regulated by growth factors produced by normal or malignant cells. The growth factor progranulin has significant biological effects in different types of cancer. This protein is a regulator of tumorigenesis because it stimulates cell proliferation, migration, invasion, angiogenesis, malignant transformation, resistance to anticancer drugs, and immune evasion. This review focuses on the biological effects of progranulin in several cancer models and provides evidence that this growth factor should be considered as a potential biomarker and target in cancer treatment.

Keywords: Biomarker; Cancer; Progranulin.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / blood
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Movement
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / metabolism
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm / physiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / genetics
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic
  • Neovascularization, Physiologic / physiology
  • Progranulins


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • GRN protein, human
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Progranulins