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Int J Cancer. 2008 May 1;122(9):2050-6. doi: 10.1002/ijc.23337.

Prognostic significance of MMP-9 and TIMP-1 serum and tissue expression in breast cancer.

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Department of Pathology, Anhui Medical University, Hefei, Anhui, People's Republic of China.


Tumor progression and metastasis contribute to the great majority of breast cancer deaths. Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases (TIMPs) are thought to be involved in tumor progression and metastasis. Thus, we determined whether the expression of MMP-9 and TIMP-1 is associated with prognosis in breast cancer patients. We measured serum MMP-9 and TIMP-1 by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay in 60 breast cancer patients, 18 benign breast disease patients and 15 healthy controls. We also evaluated the expression of MMP-9 and TIMP-1 protein and mRNA in paraffin-embedded tumor tissues from the 60 breast cancer patients by immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization. We then correlated serum and tissue levels of MMP-9 and TIMP-1 in breast cancer samples and their expression with patients' clinicopathologic characteristics. We found that serum levels of MMP-9 and TIMP-1 were significantly higher in breast cancer patients than in benign breast disease and in healthy controls. High serum levels of MMP-9 and TIMP-1 were associated with lymph node metastasis, higher tumor stage and lower relapse-free and overall survival (OS) rates. Compared to low expression, high tissue expression of MMP-9 protein was associated with lymph node metastasis and higher tumor stage; and high tissue expression of TIMP-1 was associated with a lower OS rate. Our findings suggest that MMP-9 and TIMP-1 may further be evaluated as biomarkers for predicting progression and prognosis of breast cancer.

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