Document Type


Publication Date



This article is the author's final published version in Cancers, Volume 15, Issue 6, March 2023, Article number 1706.

The published version is available at

Copyright © 2023 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https:// 4.0/).


Progranulin is a pleiotropic growth factor with important physiological roles in embryogenesis and maintenance of adult tissue homeostasis. While-progranulin deficiency is associated with a broad range of pathological conditions affecting the brain, such as frontotemporal dementia and neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis, progranulin upregulation characterizes many tumors, including brain tumors, multiple myeloma, leiomyosarcoma, mesothelioma and epithelial cancers such as ovarian, liver, breast, bladder, adrenal, prostate and kidney carcinomas. The increase of progranulin levels in tumors might have diagnostic and prognostic significance. In cancer, progranulin has a pro-tumorigenic role by promoting cancer cell proliferation, migration, invasiveness, anchorage-independent growth and resistance to chemotherapy. In addition, progranulin regulates the tumor microenvironment, affects the function of cancer-associated fibroblasts, and modulates tumor immune surveillance. However, the molecular mechanisms of progranulin oncogenic function are not fully elucidated. In bladder cancer, progranulin action relies on the activation of its functional signaling receptor EphA2. Notably, more recent data suggest that progranulin can also modulate a functional crosstalk between multiple receptor-tyrosine kinases, demonstrating a more complex and context-dependent role of progranulin in cancer. Here, we will review what is currently known about the function of progranulin in tumors, with a focus on its molecular mechanisms of action and regulation.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.