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Clin Cancer Res. 1997 Nov;3(11):1949-58.

The human myoepithelial cell is a natural tumor suppressor.

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Department of Pathology, UCLA School of Medicine, Los Angeles, California 90024, USA.


Myoepithelial cells, which surround ducts and acini of glandular organs, form a natural border separating proliferating epithelial cells from basement membrane and underlying stroma. Myoepithelial cells in situ and in vitro constitutively express high amounts of proteinase inhibitors that include tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase 1, protease nexin-II, alpha-1 antitrypsin, and maspin. Human myoepithelial xenografts (HMS-X, HMS-3X, and HMS-4X), which our laboratory has established, accumulate an abundant extracellular matrix containing sequestered proteinase inhibitors. Humatrix, a gel that we have derived from HMS-X, inhibits tumor cell invasion (down to 25% +/- 10% of Matrigel control; P < 0.01), and our recently established human myoepithelial cell lines, HMS-1, HMS-3, and HMS-4, inhibit tumor cell invasion in cellular invasion (down to 42% +/- 7% of control; P < 0.05) and in conditioned media assays (down to 30% +/- 8% of control; P < 0.01). The anti-invasive effects of HMS-1, HMS-3, and HMS-4 can be enhanced by phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (down to 2% +/- 1% of control) by a maspin-dependent mechanism and abolished by dexamethasone (up to 95% +/- 5% of control) by a maspin-independent mechanism (P < 0.01). HMS-X, HMS-3X, HMS-4X, and Humatrix inhibit tumor invasion and metastasis in severe combined immunodeficient mice (P < 0.001). The cumulative data suggest that myoepithelial cells are natural paracrine suppressors of invasion and metastasis and may specifically inhibit the progression of precancerous disease states to invasive cancer in vivo.

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