The microenvironment is now considered as an important source of potential therapeutic targets in diverse pathologies. In cardiovascular diseases and in cancer, common processes involving stromal remodeling, cell invasion, and angiogenesis can promote progression of the pathology. At each step of the pathogenesis, cell adhesion needs to be modulated to allow adaptation of cell survival/motility/proliferation functions to the microenvironment. Among adhesion receptors, integrins, responsible for cell/matrix or cell/cell interactions, play a key role in the cellular responses. Moreover, their engagement conditions the sensitivity to apoptosis induced by therapeutic drugs. Targeting of the extracellular side of integrins in order to modulate their adhesive functions is under development and has reached clinical indications. However, improvement of oral availability and of cell signaling control is required in the future. Targeting of the extracellular or the intracellular key proteins involved in integrin-dependent signaling pathway seems promising. Yet, although some common key enzyme inhibitors are under development, a better knowledge of the specificity of integrin activation and interaction with partners upon pathogenesis is of major importance in envisaging the antagonism of integrin-linked signals as a therapeutic tool alone or in association with other therapies.
Keywords: integrin antagonists, microenvironment, atherosclerosis, cancer, signal transduction, angiogenesis, invasion, stromal remodeling
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