Immunolocalisation studies of matrix metalloproteinases-1, -2 and -3 in human melanoma

Virchows Arch. 1999 Dec;435(6):574-9. doi: 10.1007/s004280050443.


The matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are considered to have an important role in connective tissue degradation and have been implicated in the mechanisms of tumour invasion and metastatic spread. We have used immunohistochemistry to examine and compare the tissue distributions of collagenase-1 (MMP-1), gelatinase A (MMP-2) and stromelysin-1 (MMP-3) in 18 specimens of malignant melanoma, viz. 10 superficial spreading and 8 nodular melanomas. MMPs-1, -2 and -3 were demonstrated within melanoma and host tissue cells, especially at the periphery of some tumours, but were usually restricted to less than 10% of total melanoma cells. The MMPs were absent from 'normal' skin tissue distant from the tumour. MMP-2 was localised to discrete groups of cells and was especially evident at the epidermal:tumour interface, whereas MMP-3 was mainly confined to the deeper margins of melanoma. No regular pattern of MMP expression was observed for either the superficial spreading or the nodular melanomas. The variable distributions of the MMPs suggested that enzyme expression was subject to local microenvironmental regulation, possibly in response to matrix components and the cellular heterogeneity observed at the tumour margins. These in situ observations add weight to the concept that specific MMPs contribute to the mechanisms of tumour invasion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 1 / metabolism*
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 2 / metabolism*
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 3 / metabolism*
  • Melanoma / enzymology*
  • Melanoma / pathology
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Skin / enzymology
  • Skin / pathology
  • Skin Neoplasms / enzymology*
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology


  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 3
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 2
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 1