Plasma MMP1, MMP8 and MMP13 expression in breast cancer: protective role of MMP8 against lymph node metastasis
© BioMed Central Ltd 2008
Published: 13 May 2008
Elevated levels of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) have been found to associate with poor prognosis in various carcinomas. This study aimed at evaluating plasma levels of the collagenases MMP1, MMP8 and MMP13 as diagnostic and prognostic markers of breast cancer. Using ELISA, plasma levels of MMP1, MMP8 and MMP13 were measured in 42 control individuals and in 208 patients – of which 21 were inflammatory breast cancer patients – and were correlated with standard clinicopathological data. Plasma MMP1 levels were higher in breast cancer patients than in control individuals, while the opposite was true for MMP8. Plasma MMP13 levels could not be detected. We found a negative correlation of plasma MMP1 with tumour size (P = 0.07); and a positive association of MMP8 with the premenopausal status (P = 0.06), Nottingham Prognostic Index (P = 0.06) and Her2 expression (P = 0.07). Further, a twofold decrease in MMP1 (P = 0.025) and MMP8 (P = 0.007) levels was observed in inflammatory breast cancer patients, a very rare and not well understood aggressive disease. Most interestingly, we observed a peculiar relation between plasma MMP8 levels and lymph node metastasis. We found that both control individuals and patients without lymph node involvement (pN0) have lower plasma MMP8 levels than patients with moderate lymph node involvement (pN1, pN2) (P = 0.001); and that they show a trend for higher MMP8 levels as compared with patients with extensive lymph node metastasis (pN3) and a strong predisposition to distant metastasis. In summary, we observed differences in MMP1 and MMP8 plasma levels between distinct breast cancer patient groups. As it is not clear to date whether MMPs in blood and body fluids have a physiological function per se, we hypothesize that altered levels in blood reflect local changes in the extracellular microenvironment. As such, a positive association of blood MMP levels with clinical characteristics and tumour features reflects a negative association with tissue MMP levels and vice versa. Therefore, our results suggest that both MMP1 and MMP8 in the tumour may contribute to the aggressive phenotype of inflammatory breast carcinomas. Interestingly, our results suggest that tumour MMP8 expression may affect the metastatic behaviour of breast cancer cells with a greater protective effect against lymph node metastasis than against distant metastasis.
Supported by the EU Cancerdegradome Project Grant LSHC-CT-2003-503297.