Syndecan-1 (SDC-1) is a heparan sulfate (HS)/chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan (PG) of the cell surface and the extracellular matrix (ECM), which regulates a broad spectrum of physiological and pathological processes such as cell proliferation, migration, inflammation, matrix remodeling, wound healing, and tumorigenesis. Syndecan-1 represents the major PG of the liver, expressed by hepatocytes and cholangiocytes, and its elevated expression is a characteristic feature of liver diseases. The highest syndecan-1 expression is found in liver cirrhosis and in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) developed in cirrhotic livers. In addition, as being a hepatitis C receptor, hepatitis C virus (HCV)-infected livers produce extremely large amounts of syndecan-1. The serum levels of the cleaved (shedded) extracellular domain have clinical significance, as their increased concentration reflects on poor prognosis in cirrhosis as well as in cancer. In vivo experiments confirmed that syndecan-1 protects against early stages of fibrogenesis mainly by enhanced clearance of transforming growth factor β1 (TGFβ1) and thrombospondin-1 (THBS1) via circulation, and against hepatocarcinogenesis by interfering with several signaling pathways and enhancing cell cycle blockade. In addition, syndecan-1 is capable to hinder lipid metabolism and ribosomal biogenesis in induced cancer models. These observations together with its participation in the uptake of viruses (e.g., HCV and SARS-CoV-2) indicate that syndecan-1 is a central player in liver pathologies.
Keywords: extracellular matrix; fibrosis; liver cancer; proteoglycan; syndecan-1.