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Cancer Res. 2008 Aug 1;68(15):6251-9. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-08-0537.

Effect of ablation or inhibition of stromal matrix metalloproteinase-9 on lung metastasis in a breast cancer model is dependent on genetic background.

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Department of Cancer Biology, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee 37232-6840, USA.


Matrix metalloproteinases (MMP) are a family of enzymes with a myriad of functions. Lately, we have come to realize that broad-spectrum inhibition of these enzymes, as was tried unsuccessfully in multiple phase III trials in cancer patients, is likely unwise given the protumorigenic and antitumorigenic functions of various family members. Here, we used the multistage mammary tumor model MMTV-PyVT to investigate roles for either MMP7 or MMP9 in tumor progression. We found no effect of genetic ablation of MMP7 or MMP9 on the multifocal tumors that developed in the mammary glands. Lack of MMP7 also had no effect on the development of lung metastases, suggesting that MMP7 is irrelevant in this model. In contrast, MMP9 deficiency was associated with an 80% decrease in lung tumor burden. The predominant cellular source of MMP9 was myeloid cells, with neutrophils being the largest contributor in tumor-bearing lungs. Experimental metastasis assays corroborated the role of host-derived MMP9 in lung metastasis and also facilitated determination of a time frame most relevant for the MMP9-mediated effect. The lung tumors from MMP9-deficient mice showed decreased angiogenesis. Surprisingly, the antimetastatic outcome of MMP9 ablation seemed to be dependent on strain. Only mice that had genetic background derived from C57BL/6 showed reduced metastasis, whereas mice fully of the FVB/N background showed no significant effect. These strain-specific responses were also observed in a study using a highly selective pharmacologic inhibitor of MMP9 and thus suggest that responses to MMP inhibition are controlled by genetic differences.

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