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J Clin Oncol. 2001 Feb 15;19(4):1118-27.

Expression of matrix metalloproteinases and tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases in human pancreatic adenocarcinomas: clinicopathologic and prognostic significance of matrilysin expression.

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  • 1First Department of Internal Medicine, Sapporo Medical University, Sapporo, Japan.



A disruption in the balance between the matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and their natural inhibitors, tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases (TIMPs), has been implicated in the progression of many types of cancer. The aim of this study was to determine whether a specific MMP or TIMP has clinicopathologic and prognostic significance in pancreatic carcinoma.


Using immunohistochemistry, we analyzed 70 pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma tissues for expression of MMP-1, MMP-2, MMP-3, MMP-7 (matrilysin), MMP-9, MT1-MMP, TIMP-1, and TIMP-2. The results were matched with clinicopathologic characteristics and patients' survival. The effects of the suppression of a specific MMP on in vitro invasiveness of pancreatic carcinoma cells were also examined.


Expression of MMP-1, MMP-2, MMP-3, matrilysin, MMP-9, MT1-MMP, TIMP-1, and TIMP-2 was detected in either tumor cells or tumor stromal cells, or in both components, at varying frequencies. Among MMPs, matrilysin showed a unique distribution in the tumor nests; its expression was usually most pronounced at the invasive front of the tumors. Sections with immunostaining signals in more than 30% of carcinoma cells at the invasive front, which were observed in 40 cases (57%), were judged to be positive for matrilysin. Matrilysin positivity was significantly correlated with pT, pN, and pM categories and with more advanced pathologic tumor-node-metastasis stages. Patients with matrilysin-positive carcinoma had a significantly shorter overall survival time than did those with matrilysin-negative carcinoma. Matrilysin was a significant independent prognostic factor for overall survival in multivariate analysis. In contrast, there was no correlation between the presence of other MMPs or TIMPs and clinicopathologic characteristics, nor was the presence of individual MMPs or TIMPs related to survival. Antisense matrilysin-transfected CFPAC-1 cells expressed reduced levels of matrilysin and demonstrated a similar growth potential but were less invasive in vitro compared with neotransfected CFPAC-1 cells.


Our results suggest that matrilysin may play a key role in progression of pancreatic carcinoma and thereby contribute to a poor prognosis. Because different synthetic MMP inhibitors affect different types of MMPs to a different degree, examination of the expression of MMPs, especially that of matrilysin, may serve as an indicator for selecting the most effective MMP inhibitor.

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