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Atherosclerosis. 2012 Oct;224(2):302-8. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2012.04.023. Epub 2012 May 8.

A disintegrin and metalloproteases: molecular scissors in angiogenesis, inflammation and atherosclerosis.

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Department of Molecular Genetics, Cardiovascular Research Institute Maastricht, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands.


A disintegrin and metalloproteases (ADAMs) are enzymes that cleave (shed) the extracellular domains of various cell surface molecules, e.g. adhesion molecules, cytokine/chemokine and growth factor receptors, thereby releasing soluble molecules that can exert agonistic or antagonistic functions or serve as biomarkers. By functioning as such molecular scissors, ADAM proteases have been implicated in various diseases, e.g. cancer, and their role in cardiovascular diseases is now emerging. This review will focus on the role of ADAM proteases in molecular mechanisms of angiogenesis and inflammation in relation to atherosclerosis. Besides a concise overview of the current state and recent advances of this research area, we will discuss key questions about redundancy, specificity and regulation of ADAM proteases and emphasize the importance of confirmation of in vitro findings in in vivo models.

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