Introduction: Syndecans are cell surface adhesion receptors that play important functional roles. Their deregulation has been linked to several pathologies, and their aberrant regulation via diverse mechanisms is critically involved in the pathogenesis of various cancers. Similar to other receptors, syndecan functions are altered by ligand binding, overexpression, and extracellular domain shedding. These regulatory mechanisms may suggest new strategies for specifically controlling cancer cells. Areas covered: In this review, we describe the biological functions of syndecans in cancer, discuss their potential therapeutic relevance, and examine the current syndecan-targeting therapeutic options. Expert opinion: Since syndecans have diverse, specific, and novel regulatory functions in various cancers, therapeutic control of syndecan function has become an attractive approach for potential anticancer strategies. Syndecan and its associated proteins may also be strong candidate markers for the diagnosis and management of cancer, potentially opening a new era in cancer treatment.
- Cancer therapy
- Extracellular matrix
- Syndecan shedding
- Syndecan-mediated signal transduction