The role of semaphorins in immune responses and autoimmune rheumatic diseases
Semaphorins have a well-characterized role in guiding axon repulsion during development; however, the important contribution of these proteins in immunity is becoming increasingly clear. Immunoregulatory semaphorins, termed 'immune semaphorins', have roles in regulating immune cell activation, differentiation, mobility and migration. These proteins are also intimately associated with the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis (RA), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), systemic sclerosis (SSc) and anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA)-associated vasculitis (AAV). This Review discusses the pathogenic functions of immune semaphorins, as well as the potential use of these molecules as diagnostic markers and therapeutic targets for the treatment of autoimmune diseases.