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Volume 11 (2011), Pages 2491-2505
Review Article

Midkine in Inflammation

1Institute of Cardiovascular Physiology and Pathophysiology, Walter Brendel Centre of Experimental Medicine, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universit├Ąt, 80336 Munich, Germany
2Department of Health Science, Faculty of Psychological and Physical Science, Aichi Gakuin University, Nisshin, Aichi 470-0195, Japan

Received 24 October 2011; Accepted 7 November 2011

Academic Editor: Marco Antonio Cassatella

Copyright © 2011 Ludwig T. Weckbach 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 13 kDa heparin-binding growth factor midkine (MK) was originally identified as a molecule involved in the orchestration of embryonic development. Recent studies provided evidence for a new role of MK in acute and chronic inflammatory processes. Accordingly, several inflammatory diseases including nephritis, arthritis, atherosclerosis, colitis, and autoimmune encephalitis have been shown to be alleviated in the absence of MK in animal models. Reduced leukocyte recruitment to the sites of inflammation was found to be one important mechanism attenuating chronic inflammation when MK was absent. Furthermore, MK was found to modulate expression of proinflammatory cytokines and the expansion of regulatory T-cells. Here, we review the current understanding of the role of MK in different inflammatory disorders and summarize the knowledge of MK biology.