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Neuroscience. 2010 Sep 29;170(1):289-97. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2010.06.057. Epub 2010 Jul 1.

Granins as disease-biomarkers: translational potential for psychiatric and neurological disorders.

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Department of Evolutionary and Functional Biology, University of Parma, 43124 Parma, Italy.

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  • Neuroscience. 2011 Jan 13;172:580.


The identification of biomarkers represents a fundamental medical advance that can lead to an improved understanding of disease pathogenesis, and holds the potential to define surrogate diagnostic and prognostic endpoints. Because of the inherent difficulties in assessing brain function in patients and objectively identifying neurological and cognitive/emotional symptoms, future application of biomarkers to neurological and psychiatric disorders is extremely desirable. This article discusses the biomarker potential of the granin family, a group of acidic proteins present in the secretory granules of a wide variety of endocrine, neuronal and neuroendocrine cells: chromogranin A (CgA), CgB, Secretogranin II (SgII), SgIII, HISL-19 antigen, 7B2, NESP55, VGF and ProSAAS. Their relative abundance, functional significance, and secretion into the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), saliva, and the general circulation have made granins tractable targets as biomarkers for many diseases of neuronal and endocrine origin, recently impacting diagnosis of a number of neurological and psychiatric disorders including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Alzheimer's disease, frontotemporal dementia, and schizophrenia. Although research has not yet validated the clinical utility of granins as surrogate endpoints for the progression or treatment of neurological or psychiatric disease, a growing body of experimental evidence indicates that the use of granins as biomarkers might be of great potential clinical interest. Advances that further elucidate the mechanism(s) of action of granins, coupled with improvements in biomarker technology and direct clinical application, should increase the translational effectiveness of this family of proteins in disease diagnosis and drug discovery.

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