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Swiss Med Wkly. 2009 Mar 7;139(9-10):122-34. doi: smw-12429.

Cadherins and cardiovascular disease.

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  • 1Laboratory for Signal Transduction, Department of Biomedicine, Basel University Hospital, Switzerland. therese-j.resink@unibas.ch


Cardiovascular diseases encompass an enormous range of conditions arising through an equally diverse aetiology. The cadherin superfamily of cell surface adhesion molecules have long been recognised for their crucial roles in morphogenesis and controlled growth and turnover in adult tissues. Thus, their involvement in the development of cardiovascular diseases characterised by tissue remodelling can be predicted. However, given the diversity of cadherins expressed on resident cells in cardiac and vascular tissue and their assorted and frequently overlapping functions that extend beyond mere mediation of adhesive interactions, definition of specific roles in the progression of cardiovascular diseases can be confounding. Compared with the fields of embryogenesis and oncology, investigations targeted specifically toward delineation of the participation of cadherins in cardiovascular disease are remarkably scant. In this article we offer the reader a brief introduction to members of the cadherin superfamily, and review the involvement of cadherins in cardiac diseases (dilated and dysplastic cardiomyopathies) and vascular diseases (atherosclerosis and restenosis) in which prominent alterations in tissue architecture occur and ultimately cause the clinical manifestations and complications of the diseases. Putative functions of the different cadherins expressed in cardiomyocytes, smooth muscle cells and endothelial cells are discussed.

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