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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2010 Aug;1806(1):74-81. doi: 10.1016/j.bbcan.2010.02.002. Epub 2010 Mar 1.

Involvement of ADAMs in tumorigenesis and progression of hepatocellular carcinoma: Is it merely fortuitous or a real pathogenic link?

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Section of Internal Medicine, University of Bari Medical School, Piazza G. Cesare 11, I-70124 Bari, Italy.


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common primary liver cancer and one of the most frequent types of cancer worldwide. It normally develops in patients with chronic liver disease, especially cirrhosis, although some cases without an apparent underlying liver disease have been reported. The pathogenesis of HCC is multi-factorial and complex. Hepatitis viruses are the main factors favoring the development of HCC. In fact, chronic inflammation associated with hepatitis C or B virus infection can lead to progressive liver fibrosis, cirrhosis and ultimately HCC. Chronic inflammation and liver fibrosis cause a continuous remodeling of the extracellular matrix (ECM), a dynamic process that involves several molecules including integrins and matrix processing enzymes. An increasing body of evidence indicates that ADAMs are involved in promoting tumor formation and progression of HCC. A Disintegrin And Metalloproteases (ADAMs) are a group of proteins belonging to the zinc protease superfamily. ADAMs are usually transmembrane proteins that contain disintegrin and metalloprotease domains and are, therefore, able to carry out both cell adhesion and protease activities. Soluble isoforms of ADAMs have also been discovered and characterized. In this review, we focus on the contribution of ADAM proteins to HCC tumorigenesis and cancer progression. The potential role of ADAMs as key modulators of tumor-stroma interactions during tumor progression, by means of the activities of their constituent domains, is also discussed.

Copyright 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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