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Presented at American Association Cancer Research in 2008

Zuzga D.S., Gibbons A.V., Li P., Lubbe W.J., Chervoneva I., Pitari G.M. “Tumor epithelial cell MMP-9 is a prognostic marker in colorectal cancer”. In: American Association for Cancer Research Special Conference, Molecular Diagnostics in Cancer Therapeutic Development: Proceedings; 2008 Sept 22-25; Philadelphia, PA. Abstract A40.

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related mortality indeveloped nations. Mortality from colon cancer largely reflects metastasis, thespread of the disease to distant sites. Early diagnosis of pre-metastatic diseaseand accurate stratification of patients with metastasis is pivotal to decreasemortality rates from colon cancer by effectively administering surgery alone orwith chemotherapy. However, specific pathological markers of colorectal cancermetastasis have not emerged. Matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP-9) is a keyregulator of metastasis and a therapeutic target in colon cancer. Here, MMP-9overexpression in pure tumor epithelial, but nor stromal, cell populations frompatients was associated with metastatic colorectal cancer progression as definedby RT-PCR and confirmed by immunostaining. Thus, tumors with increasedMMP-9 expression compared to matched normal adjacent tissues alwaysexhibited metastatic dissemination. In particular, MMP-9 overexpression in tumorepithelial cells, compared to normal epithelial cells, specifically predicted lymphnode involvement. Importantly, patients with relative increase of MMP-9 levels intumor epithelial cells were characterized by more advanced disease stages, withsignificantly higher proportion of regional lymph nodes harboring metastasis,compared to patients with a relative decrease in MMP-9 expression. Together,these observations suggest tumor epithelial cell MMP-9 is a novel prognosticmarker that may be exploited for more efficient disease stage stratification andtherapeutic regimen selection in patients with colorectal cancer.



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