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Gynecol Oncol. 1999 Mar;72(3):380-6.

Expression of matrix metalloproteinase-9 in squamous cell carcinoma of the uterine cervix-clinicopathologic study using immunohistochemistry and mRNA in situ hybridization.

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Department of Pathology, Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, Affiliated to Sackler School of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, Israel.



Invasion of the extracellular matrix and blood vessels by malignant neoplasms, with subsequent distant dissemination, is a key event in tumor progression. This process appears to be mediated largely through the action of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), a family of proteolytic enzymes produced by both stromal and tumor cells. The role of gelatinases (MMP-2 and MMP-9) in basement membrane and matrix degradation was described in various tumors. We studied MMP-9 protein expression in cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) and squamous cell carcinoma using immunohistochemistry and detected MMP-9 mRNA using in situ hybridization.


Fifty squamous cell carcinomas, 10 cases of CIN II-III, and 10 normal cervices were stained for MMP-9, using a monoclonal antibody. The presence of MMP-9 mRNA was studied using in situ hybridization. Results were correlated with patient survival during a follow-up period of up to 167 months (average, 41 months).


Immunohistochemical staining of tumor cells for MMP-9 was noted in 36/50 (72%) carcinomas and 5/10 (50%) CIN lesions, but was uniformly absent from the nonneoplastic epithelium adjacent to tumors and from control cervices. Peritumoral staining of stromal cells was observed in 27/50 (54%) carcinomas, but only in 3/10 (30%) CIN lesions and 1/10 (10%) control cervices. The presence of MMP-9 mRNA was detected in tumor cells in 39 (78%) carcinomas and 8 (80%) CIN lesions, but only in 4 (40%) control cervices. An intense signal for MMP-9 mRNA was observed most frequently in carcinomas. MMP-9 mRNA was detected in stromal cells in the majority of cases. However, an intense signal was observed only in stromal cells around invasive tumors. In survival analysis, age (P = 0.016), grade (P = 0. 016), and stage (P = 0.001) showed independent correlation with poor survival. Neither MMP-9 protein expression nor an intense signal for MMP-9 mRNA was associated with poor survival, although the latter was observed more frequently in neoplastic cells of lethal tumors (8/14 tumors vs 11/36 nonlethal tumors).


MMP-9 mRNA and protein expression are elevated in tumor and stromal cells of both high-grade CIN and invasive squamous cell carcinoma of the uterine cervix. Thus, MMP-9 is possibly an early marker of tumor progression in squamous lesions of the cervix. An intense stromal signal for MMP-9 mRNA characterizes some invasive carcinomas. Expression of MMP-9 in cervical carcinoma cells is present in both lethal and nonlethal tumors, consistent with the key role of this proteolytic enzyme in invasion, and does not appear to predict disease outcome.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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