Progranulin as a therapeutic target for dementia

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Introduction: Progranulin (PGRN) is an acrosomal glycoprotein that is synthesized during spermatogenesis. It is overexpressed in tumors and has anti-inflammatory properties. The protein may be cleaved into granulins which display pro-inflammatory properties. In 2006, mutations in progranulin gene (GRN) that cause haploinsufficiency were found in familial cases of frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Patients with null mutations in GRN display very low-plasma PGRN levels; this analysis is useful for identifying mutation carriers, independent of the clinical presentation, and in those before the appearance of symptoms. Areas covered: Here, we review the current knowledge of PGRN physiological functions and GRN mutations associated with FTD; we also summarize state of the art clinical trials and those compounds able to replace PGRN loss in preclinical models. Expert opinion: PGRN represents a promising therapeutic target for FTD. Cohorts suitable for treatment, ideally at the preclinical stage, where pathogenic mechanisms ongoing in the brain are targeted, are available. However, PGRN may have side effects, such as the risk of tumorigenesis, and the risk/benefit ratio of any intervention cannot be predicted. Furthermore, at present, the situation is complicated by the absence of adequate outcome measures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)579-585
Number of pages7
JournalExpert Opinion on Therapeutic Targets
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 3 2018


  • biomarker
  • Frontotemporal dementia (FTD)
  • plasma levels
  • progranulin (PGRN)
  • progranulin gene (GRN)
  • therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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