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Amyloid. 2007 Mar;14(1):21-32.

Heparan sulfate as a therapeutic target in amyloidogenesis: prospects and possible complications.

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  • 1Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine,Queen's University, Kingston General Hospital, Ontario, Canada.


Amyloid formation in vivo is a much more complicated process than studies of in vitro protein/peptide fibrillogenesis would lead one to believe. Amyloidogenesis in vivo involves multiple components, some no less important than the amyloidogenic protein/peptides themselves, and each of these components, and its role in the pathogenetic steps toward amyloid deposition could, theoretically, be a therapeutic target. Herein we use the definition of amyloid as it was originally described, discuss the similarities and differences between amyloid in vivo and in vitro, address the potential role of the extracellular matrix in in vivo amyloidogenesis by focusing on a specific component, namely heparan sulfate proteoglycan, and describe studies illustrating that heparan sulfate is a valid target for anti-amyloid therapy. In light of experimental and recent clinical results obtained from studies addressing heparan sulfate's role in amyloid deposition additional novel anti-amyloid therapeutic targets will be proposed. Lastly, given the multiple roles that heparan sulfate plays in organ development, and organ and cell function, potential side effects of targeting heparan sulfate biosynthesis for therapeutic purposes are considered.

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