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Virchows Arch. 1999 Dec;435(6):566-73.

Matrix-metalloproteinases 1, 2, and 3 and their tissue inhibitors 1 and 2 in benign and malignant breast lesions: an in situ hybridization study.

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  • 1Frauenklinik der Medizinischen Hochschule Hannover, Germany.


Invasive growth requires degradation of extracellular matrix. Altered expression of matrix degrading enzymes may indicate an increased potential for invasive growth. We determined the expression patterns of matrix-metalloproteinases (MMP)-1, -2, and -3 and of the tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases (TIMP)-1 and -2 by in situ hybridization with isotopically labeled RNA probes in normal breast tissue (n=6), fibrocystic disease (n=20), five cases of which contained radial scars, lobular carcinoma in situ (CLIS; n=5), ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS; n=9) and invasive carcinomas (n=24). Only a few cells displayed MMP-1- and MMP-2-specific labeling in normal breast tissue and fibrocystic disease. Noninvasive ductal carcinomas showed elevated MMP-2 transcript levels in peritumor stromal cells in the absence of significant MMP-1 specific signals. In general, compared with adjacent normal breast tissue, a gradual increase of MMP-2 was found in noninvasive to invasive cancers. Invasive ductal and lobular carcinomas displayed co-expression of MMP-1 and MMP-2 by stromal cells, mainly of the invasion front, with high signal intensity particularly in high-grade invasive carcinomas. Tumor cells and peritumor stroma showed low MMP-3 transcript levels, especially in medullary carcinomas. TIMP-1 and -2 transcript levels were increased in invasive carcinomas correlating with the histological grade. These RNA expression patterns suggest an increased invasive potential in breast carcinomas even prior to histologically overt invasive growth.

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