Vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 (VCAM-1), also known as CD16, is a cell surface sialoglycoprotein belonging to the immunoglobulin superfamily. Two forms of VCAM-1 with either six or seven extracellular Ig-like domains are generated by alternative splicing, with the longer form predominant. VCAM-1 is an endothelial ligand for very late antigen-4 (VLA-4) and α4ß7 integrin expressed on leukocytes, and thus mediates leukocyte-endothelial cell adhesion and signal transduction. VCAM-1 expression is induced on endothelial cells during inflammatory bowel disease, atherosclerosis, allograft rejection, infection, and asthmatic responses. During these responses, VCAM-1 forms a scaffold for leukocyte migration. VCAM-1 also activates signals within endothelial cells resulting in the opening of an "endothelial cell gate" through which leukocytes migrate. VCAM-1 has been identified as a potential anti-inflammatory therapeutic target, the hypothesis being that reduced expression of VCAM-1 will slow the development of atherosclerosis. In addition, VCAM-1-activated signals in endothelial cells are regulated by cytokines indicating that it is important to consider both endothelial cell adhesion molecule expression and function during inflammatory processes.
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