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BioMed Research International
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 124321, 13 pages
Review Article

The Motile Breast Cancer Phenotype Roles of Proteoglycans/Glycosaminoglycans

1Laboratory of Anatomy-Histology-Embryology, Medical School, University of Crete, 71003 Heraklion, Greece
2Dipartimento di Scienze Chirurgiche e Morfologiche, Università degli Studi dell’Insubria, Via J.H. Dunant 5, 21100 Varese, Italy

Received 9 May 2014; Accepted 2 July 2014; Published 22 July 2014

Academic Editor: Ilona Kovalszky

Copyright © 2014 Dragana Nikitovic et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The consecutive stages of cancer growth and dissemination are obligatorily perpetrated through specific interactions of the tumor cells with their microenvironment. Importantly, cell-associated and tumor microenvironment glycosaminoglycans (GAGs)/proteoglycan (PG) content and distribution are markedly altered during tumor pathogenesis and progression. GAGs and PGs perform multiple functions in specific stages of the metastatic cascade due to their defined structure and ability to interact with both ligands and receptors regulating cancer pathogenesis. Thus, GAGs/PGs may modulate downstream signaling of key cellular mediators including insulin growth factor receptor (IGFR), epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), estrogen receptors (ERs), or Wnt members. In the present review we will focus on breast cancer motility in correlation with their GAG/PG content and critically discuss mechanisms involved. Furthermore, new approaches involving GAGs/PGs as potential prognostic/diagnostic markers or as therapeutic agents for cancer-related pathologies are being proposed.