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G Chir. 2012 Oct;33(10):305-10.

The urokinase plasminogen activating system in thyroid cancer: clinical implications.

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Department of Experimental Medicine, "Sapienza" University of Rome, Italy.


The urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA) system (uPAS) comprises the uPA, its cell membrane receptor (uPAR) and two specific inhibitors, the plasminogen activator inhibitor 1 (PAI-1) and 2 (PAI-2). The uPA converts the plasminogen in the serine protease plasmin, involved in a number of physiopathological processes requiring basement membrane (BM) or extracellular matrix (ECM) remodelling, including tumor progression and metastasis. The tumor-promoting role of PAS is not limited to the degradation of ECM and BM required for local diffusion and spread to distant sites of malignant cells, but widens to tumor cell proliferation, adhesion and migration, intravasation, growth at the metastatic site and neoangiogenesis. The relevance of uPAS in cancer progression has been confirmed by several studies which documented an increased expression of uPA, uPAR and PAI-1 in different human malignancies, and a positive correlation between the levels of one or more of them and a poor prognosis. For these reasons, the uPAS components have aroused considerable interest as suitable targets for anticancer therapy, and several pharmacological approaches aimed at inhibiting the uPA and/or uPAR expression or function in preclinical and clinical settings have been described. In the present manuscript, we will first glance at uPAS biological functions in human cancer progression and its clinical significance in terms of prognosis and therapy. We will then review the main findings regarding expression and function of uPAS components in thyroid cancer tissues along with the experimental and clinical evidence suggesting its potential value as molecular prognostic marker and therapeutic target in thyroid cancer patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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