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Midkine is a heparin-binding cytokine or a growth factor with a molecular weight of 13 kDa. Midkine binds to oversulfated structures in heparan sulfate and chondroitin sulfate. The midkine receptor is a molecular complex containing proteoglycans. Midkine promotes migration, survival and other activities of target cells. Midkine has about 50% sequence identity with pleiotrophin. Mice deficient in both factors exhibit severe abnormalities including female infertility. In adults, midkine is expressed in damaged tissues and involved in the reparative process. It is also involved in inflammatory reactions by promoting the migration of leukocytes, induction of chemokines and suppression of regulatory T cells. Midkine is expressed in a variety of malignant tumors and promotes their growth and invasion. Midkine appears to be helpful for the treatment of injuries in the heart, brain, spinal cord and retina. Midkine inhibitors are expected to be effective in the treatment of malignancies, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, renal diseases, restenosis, hypertension and adhesion after surgery.


Takashi Muramatsu. Midkine, a heparin-binding cytokine with multiple roles in development, repair and diseases. Proceedings of the Japan Academy. Series B, Physical and biological sciences. 2010;86(4):410-25

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PMID: 20431264

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