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Jpn J Cancer Res. 1997 Jan;88(1):72-81.

Stromal expression of MMP-9 and urokinase receptor is inversely associated with liver metastasis and with infiltrating growth in human colorectal cancer: a novel approach from immune/inflammatory aspect.

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Department of Pathology, Tohoku University, School of Medicine, Aoba-ku, Sendai.


MMP-9 (gelatinase B) and urokinase-type plasminogen activator receptor (u-PAR), which are involved in cancer cell invasion and metastasis, are reported to be predominantly expressed by immune/inflammatory cells in human colorectal cancers. To investigate their significance in cancer progression, we morphometrically analyzed the tissue expression of MMP-9 and u-PAR among different stages of colorectal cancer. The numbers of MMP-9- and u-PAR-positive cells along the invasive margin were significantly smaller in cases with liver metastasis than in cases without liver metastasis, and were also smaller in cases with an infiltrating margin than in cases with an expanding margin. Both variables were larger in colon cancer cases with conspicuous lymphocytic infiltration. These results indicated that the degree of tissue expression of MMP-9 and u-PAR by host cells is inversely associated with liver metastasis and an infiltrating growth pattern in human colorectal cancers. Essentially the same results were obtained for the number of macrophages distributed along the invasive margin. We also found that the expression pattern of MMP-9 was similar to that of MMP-8 (polymorphonuclear leukocyte collagenase). These data are consistent with clinicopathologic studies of host cells. Therefore, our data suggest a dual role of MMP-9 and u-PAR expression in colon cancer tissue; i.e., not only are these proteinases cancer-promoting factors, but also they are related to the host defensive mechanism when they are expressed by host cells.

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