The matricellular protein osteopontin binds to cell surface receptors and is secreted into many body fluids including milk, blood, and urine, depending on the organ of origin. This makes osteopontin an ideal candidate for being a biomarker as the secreted form is easily obtained in throwaway fluids, and mimics the cellular environment from which it is released.
Osteopontin is important in immune responses and inflammation as well as bone generation and remodeling. In autistic children, serum levels of osteopontin are correlated to the severity of disease, probably due to a brain inflammation pattern in these children. In aortic valve sclerosis and stenosis, increased levels of secreted osteopontin are also noted. Osteopontin has also been suggested as a cancer biomarker, since it is associated with tumor formation, progression, and metastasis. In short, osteopontin is a strong marker for bone growth, inflammation, and certain cancers.
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