Circulating full-length osteopontin (FL-OPN) is elevated in plasma from patients with various infectious diseases, such as adult T-cell leukemia, (TB), hepatitis virus infection, leptospirosis, acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), AIDS/TB, and coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Proteolysis of OPN by thrombin, matrix metalloproteases, caspase 8/3, cathepsin D, plasmin, and enterokinase generates various cleaved OPNs with a variety of bioactivities by binding to different target cells. Moreover, OPN is susceptible to gradual proteolysis. During inflammation, one of the cleaved fragments, N-terminal thrombin-cleaved OPN (trOPN or OPN-Arg [OPN-R]), induces dendritic cell (DC) adhesion. Further cleavage by carboxypeptidase B2 or carboxypeptidase N removes Arg from OPN-R to OPN-Leu (OPN-L). Consequently, OPN-L decreases DC adhesion. In particular, the differences in plasma level over time are observed between FL-OPN and its cleaved OPNs during inflammation. We found that the undefined OPN levels (mixture of FL-OPN and cleaved OPN) were elevated in plasma and reflected the pathology of TB and COVID-19 rather than FL-OPN. These infections are associated with elevated levels of various proteases. Inhibition of the cleavage or the activities of cleaved products may improve the outcome of the therapy. Research on the metabolism of OPN is expected to create new therapies against infectious diseases.
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