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J Pathol. 1996 Nov;180(3):283-9.

Matrix metalloproteinase-2 (72 kD type IV collagenase) expression occurs in the early stage of human melanocytic tumour progression and may have prognostic value.

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Department of Radiotherapy and Oncology, University of Oulo, Finland.


Matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2), a member of the matrix metalloproteinase family, participates in degradation of the pericellular and extracellular matrix during neoplastic growth and metastasis. Experimental data have substantiated its role in melanoma invasion, but there is no information at present concerning its expression in histological specimens from human melanocytic tumors. This study describes the occurrence and immunolocalization of MMP-2 in human melanocytic lesions, defining distinct steps in melanoma progression. Paraffin-embedded sections from 118 melanocytic lesions were immunostained using a specific antibody to 72 kD type IV collagenase. The material included 34 common naevocellular naevi, 14 dysplastic naevi, 21 in situ melanomas, 20 primary malignant melanomas, and 29 melanoma metastases. Intracytoplasmic MMP-2 immunoreactive protein was found in the 'naevocytic nests' of common naevi, in junctional naevus cells, and in melanoma cells. The surrounding normal skin stained negatively, except for occasional macrophages, sweat glands, and hair follicles. The number of MMP-2-positive cells increased with decreasing architectural organization and increasing atypia in the melanocytic lesions. The MMP-2 positivity in the primary and subcutaneous melanoma lesions correlated with later haematogenous metastasis. The data suggest that MMP-2 expression is an early event in melanocytic tumour progression, but is nevertheless prognostic for haematogenous metastasis in melanoma.

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