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Keywords:

  • cancer;
  • extracellular matrix;
  • heparan sulfate;
  • heparanase;
  • inflammation;
  • macrophages;
  • tumor microenvironment

Recent years have seen a growing body of evidence that enzymatic remodeling of heparan sulfate proteoglycans profoundly affects a variety of physiological and pathological processes, including inflammation, neovascularization, and tumor development. Heparanase is the sole mammalian endoglycosidase that cleaves heparan sulfate. Extensively studied in cancer progression and aggressiveness, heparanase was recently implicated in several inflammatory disorders as well. Although the precise mode of heparanase action in inflammatory reactions is still not completely understood, the fact that heparanase activity is mechanistically important both in malignancy and in inflammation argues that this enzyme is a candidate molecule linking inflammation and tumorigenesis in inflammation-associated cancers. Elucidation of the specific effects of heparanase in cancer development, particularly when inflammation is a causal factor, will accelerate the development of novel therapeutic/chemopreventive interventions and help to better define target patient populations in which heparanase-targeting therapies could be particularly beneficial.