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Br J Cancer. 2008 Feb 26;98(4):766-75. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6604239. Epub 2008 Feb 5.

Collagenase-2 (matrix metalloproteinase-8) plays a protective role in tongue cancer.

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Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Institute of Dentistry, University of Oulu and Oulu University Hospital, Oulu, Finland.


Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the tongue is the most common cancer in the oral cavity and has a high mortality rate. A total of 90 mobile tongue SCC samples were analysed for Bryne's malignancy scores, microvascular density, and thickness of the SCC sections. In addition, the staining pattern of cyclooxygenase-2, alphavbeta6 integrin, the laminin-5 gamma2-chain, and matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) -2, -7, -8, -9, -20, and -28 were analysed. The expression of MMP-8 (collagenase-2) was positively associated with improved survival of the patients and the tendency was particularly prominent in females. No sufficient evidence for a correlation with the clinical outcome was found for any other immunohistological marker. To test the protective role of MMP-8 in tongue carcinogenesis, MMP-8 knockout mice were used. MMP-8 deficient female mice developed tongue SCCs at a significantly higher incidence than wild-type mice exposed to carcinogen 4-Nitroquinoline-N-oxide. Consistently, oestrogen-induced MMP-8 expression in cultured HSC-3 tongue carcinoma cells, and MMP-8 cleaved oestrogen receptor (ER) alpha and beta. According to these data, we propose that, contrary to the role of most proteases produced by human carcinomas, MMP-8 has a protective, probably oestrogen-related role in the growth of mobile tongue SCCs.

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