PDGF receptors-mediators of autocrine tumor growth and regulators of tumor vasculature and stroma.
PDGFs and their cognate tyrosine kinase alpha- and beta-receptors are involved in multiple tumor-associated processes including autocrine growth stimulation of tumor cells, stimulation of tumor angiogenesis and recruitment and regulation of tumor fibroblasts. The recent development of clinically useful PDGF antagonists, like STI571/Glivec, has increased the interest in PDGF receptors as cancer drug targets. Autocrine PDGF receptor signaling occurs in certain malignancies characterized by mutational activation of PDGF or PDGF receptors, for instance, dermatofibrosaracoma protuberans, gastrointestinal stromal tumors, and hypereosinophilic syndrome. The roles of PDGF in regulation of tumor angiogenesis and tumor fibroblasts are more general, and probably occur in most common solid tumors. Concerning tumor angiogenesis recent studies have predominantly focused on the importance of PDGF receptor signaling for tumor pericyte recruitment. PDGF receptors in the tumor stroma have also attracted attention as interesting drug targets because of their function as regulators of tumor interstitial fluid pressure, tumor transvascular transport and tumor drug uptake. In summary, the improved understanding of the role of PDGF signaling in tumor biology, and the introduction of PDGF antagonists, has set the stage for a continued development of PDGF antagonists as novel cancer drugs.