Secreted frizzled-related protein 2: a key player in noncanonical Wnt signaling and tumor angiogenesis

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Secreted frizzled-related proteins (SFRP) are glycoproteins containing a so-called frizzled-like cysteine-rich domain. This domain enables them to bind to Wnt ligands or frizzled (FzD) receptors, making potent regulators of Wnt signaling. As Wnt signaling is often altered in cancer, it is not surprising that Wnt regulators such as SFRP proteins are often differentially expressed in the tumor microenvironment, both in a metastatic and non-metastatic setting. Indeed, SFRP2 is shown to be specifically upregulated in the tumor vasculature of several types of cancer. Several studies investigated the functional role of SFRP2 in the tumor vasculature, showing that SFRP2 binds to FzD receptors on the surface of tumor endothelial cells. This activates downstream Wnt signaling and which is, thereby, stimulating angiogenesis. Interestingly, not the well-known canonical Wnt signaling pathway, but the noncanonical Wnt/Ca2+ pathway seems to be a key player in this event. In tumor models, the pro-angiogenic effect of SFRP2 could be counteracted by antibodies targeting SFRP2, without the occurrence of toxicity. Since tumor angiogenesis is an important process in tumorigenesis and metastasis formation, specific tumor endothelial markers such as SFRP2 show great promise as targets for anti-cancer therapies. This review discusses the role of SFRP2 in noncanonical Wnt signaling and tumor angiogenesis, and highlights its potential as anti-angiogenic therapeutic target in cancer.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-203
Number of pages13
JournalCancer and Metastasis Reviews
Issue number1
Early online date2020
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


  • Angiogenesis
  • Cancer
  • SFRP2
  • Therapeutic target
  • Tumor vasculature
  • Wnt signaling

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