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Thyroid. 2008 Aug;18(8):865-71. doi: 10.1089/thy.2007.0412.

Expression of matrix metalloproteinase 2 (MMP-2) and tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase 2 (TIMP-2) in medullary thyroid carcinoma: prognostic implications.

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Head and Neck Surgery Service of the Brazilian Institute for Cancer Control (IBCC), São Paulo, Brazil.



Metalloproteinase 2 (MMP-2) and tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase 2 (TIMP-2) participate in the degeneration of the extracellular matrix and are associated with carcinogenesis. MMP-2 is one of the main metalloproteinases active in neoplasia and is a marker of the malignant phenotype. Since the biological behavior of medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) varies widely, the present study was undertaken to determine if there is a correlation between the clinical evolution of MTC and the immunohistochemically detected expression of these enzymes in thyroid surgical specimens containing MTC. If so, their expression would be a novel indicator of the prognosis of MTC.


Thirty-seven patients with MTC who had undergone thyroid surgery were followed for an average of 73 months. Immunohistochemical staining for metalloproteinase-related enzymes was performed in surgical paraffin blocks. The clinical status of the patients after surgery and at the end of the study period was characterized to determine correlations between these and the immunohistochemical markers. A value of p < 0.05 was considered statistically significant.


At the end of the study period, 15 patients (40.5%) were alive and without evidence of MTC, 17 (45.9%) had persistent MTC, and 5 (13.5%) had a relapse of their neoplasia. Four patients (10.8%) died during the course of the study. There was a significant correlation (p = 0.0005) between the immunohistochemical staining for MMP-2 and the clinical condition of the patients at the end of the study period, and a correlation between the state of apparent cure compared to persistence of MTC after thyroid surgery (p = 0.0207). No significant correlations were observed between either TIMP-2 expression or immune marking of metastatic lymph nodes and the clinical variables studied.


Immunohistochemical expression of MMP-2 in thyroid surgical specimens from patients with MTC is a novel indicator of the prognosis of this cancer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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