Semaphorins in health and disease

Damon Fard, Luca Tamagnone

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review


Cell-cell communication is pivotal to guide embryo development, as well as to maintain adult tissues homeostasis and control immune response. Among extracellular factors responsible for this function, are the Semaphorins, a broad family of around 20 different molecular cues conserved in evolution and widely expressed in all tissues. The signaling cascades initiated by semaphorins depend on a family of conserved receptors, called Plexins, and on several additional molecules found in the receptor complexes. Moreover, multiple intracellular pathways have been described to act downstream of semaphorins, highlighting significant diversity in the signaling cascades controlled by this family. Notably, semaphorin expression is altered in many human diseases, such as immunopathologies, neurodegenerative diseases and cancer. This underscores the importance of semaphorins as regulatory factors in the tissue microenvironment and has prompted growing interest for assessing their potential relevance in medicine. This review article surveys the main contexts in which semaphorins have been found to regulate developing and healthy adult tissues, and the signaling cascades implicated in these functions. Vis a vis, we will highlight the main pathological processes in which semaphorins are thought to have a role thereof.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-63
Number of pages9
JournalCytokine and Growth Factor Reviews
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • Allergy
  • Angiogenesis
  • Autoimmunity
  • Bone homeostasis
  • Cancer
  • Heart development
  • Immune response
  • Metastasis
  • Neural plasticity
  • Neural regeneration
  • Neurodegenerative diseases
  • Neuropilin
  • Plexin
  • Semaphorin
  • Tumor microenvironment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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