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World J Surg. 2002 Jul;26(7):767-71. Epub 2002 Apr 30.

Plasmin/plasminogen system in colorectal cancer.

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Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery, Baylor College of Medicine, One Baylor Plaza, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


Pericellular proteolysis plays a crucial role in tumor cell invasion. The controlled degradation of the extracellular matrix by tumor cell-associated proteases allows tumor cells to invade surrounding tissues and gain access to the circulation. One of the main protease systems involved in tumor cell invasion and metastasis is the plasminogen/plasmin system (PPS). The components of the PPS include the urokinase plasminogen activator (uPA), its cell surface receptor urokinase plasminogen activator receptor (uPAR), and its naturally occurring inhibitors, plasminogen activator inhibitors 1 and 2 (PAI-1 and PAI-2). Increases in tumor and serum levels of uPA, uPAR, and PAI-1 are associated with a worse prognosis in patients with colon cancer. Use of these proteins as either tumor or serum markers may allow more accurate determination of the prognosis in colon cancer patients. Furthermore, these proteins appear to be attractive as targets for the biologic therapy of colon cancer.

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