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Stem Cells Transl Med. 2013 Dec;2(12):946-52. doi: 10.5966/sctm.2013-0055. Epub 2013 Nov 4.

Concise review: growth differentiation factor 15 in pathology: a clinical role?

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Intergroupe Francophone du Myélome, France.


Growth differentiation factor 15 (GDF15) is a divergent member of the transforming growth factor β family discovered in a broad range of cells, as indicated by the diversity of its nomenclature. However, the only tissue that expresses a high amount of GDF15 in the physiologic state is placenta. GDF15 is easily detected in blood, and its concentration varies with age. In fact, increased blood concentration of GDF15 is associated with numerous pathological conditions. However, the biological significance underlying these observations is far from clear. GDF15 could have a positive or negative role depending on the state of cells or their environment. Furthermore, study of its biology is hampered by lack of knowledge of its receptor and thus the signaling pathways that drive its action. GDF15 seems to be an integrative signal in pathologic conditions, giving information on severity of disease. Its effectiveness in classifying patients to modulate treatment remains to be shown. Development of therapeutic interventions with GDF15 or anti-GDF15 agents remains difficult until we uncover the mechanism that drives its activity.


Cancer; Clinical translation; Drug target; Malignancy

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