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Clin Chim Acta. 2009 May;403(1-2):31-6.

The role of ADAMs in disease pathophysiology.

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  • 1Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, St. Vincent's University Hospital, Dublin 4, Ireland.


The ADAMs are a family of multidomain transmembrane and secreted proteins involved in both proteolysis and cell adhesion. Altered expression of specific ADAMs is implicated in the pathophysiology of several diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer's disease, cardiac hypertrophy, asthma and cancer. Of these different diseases, it is in cancer where most research has been carried out. Multiple ADAMs, including ADAM-9, ADAM-10, ADAM-12, ADAM-15 and ADAM-17, have been shown to play a role in either cancer formation or progression. Consistent with these findings, increased expression of specific ADAMs in several cancer types was found to correlate with features of aggressive disease and poor prognosis. Currently, selective ADAM inhibitors against ADAM-10 and ADAM-17 are undergoing clinical trials for the treatment of cancer. Further work is required in order to establish a causative role for ADAMs in rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer's disease, cardiac hypertrophy and asthma.

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