Atherosclerosis constitutes the pathological basis of life-threatening events, including heart attack and stroke. Midkine is a heparin-binding growth factor and forms a small protein family with pleiotrophin. Under inflammatory or hypoxic conditions, midkine expression is up-regulated. Upon binding to its receptors, midkine can activate multiple signal pathways to regulate cell survival and migration, epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, and oncogenesis. Circulating midkine levels are significantly increased in patients with essential hypertension, obesity or severe peripheral artery disease. Importantly, midkine exerts a proatherogenic effect by altering multiple pathophysiological processes involving atherogenesis, including macrophage lipid accumulation, vascular inflammation, neointima formation, insulin resistance and macrophage apoptosis. Midkine represents a potential therapeutic target for atherosclerosis-associated diseases. This review described the structure characteristics, expression patterns and signal transduction pathways of midkine with an emphasis on its role in atherosclerosis.Copyright © 2021 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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