Objective: Matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) can degrade gelatin and type IV collagen and is known to play an important role in tumor cell invasion across the basement membrane. The tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-1 (TIMP-1) is able to prevent activation of pro-MMP-9 and forms a 1:1 complex with the active form of MMP-9. The aim of the present study was to investigate the expression of MMP-9 and TIMP-1 in benign, borderline, and invasive epithelial ovarian tumors.
Materials and methods: A total of 90 patients with epithelial ovarian tumor were treated at the Brigham and Women's Hospital and were used as the study population. Immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization were performed to detect protein and mRNA expression of MMP-9 and TIMP-1.
Results: In the 90 epithelial ovarian tumors tested, MMP-9 expression in tumor cells was found to be significantly enhanced in serous and mucinous ovarian carcinomas compared with benign and borderline tumors. We also observed the immunostaining of MMP-9 in stromal cells of benign, borderline, and invasive epithelial ovarian tumors. Moreover, the expression levels of TIMP-1 in tumor cells were significantly higher in borderline and invasive ovarian tumors than in benign tumors.
Conclusion: Using an in situ hybridization technique, we disclosed a direct correlation between the presence of mRNA and protein expression for both MMP-9 and TIMP-1. The present data suggest that high levels of MMP-9 protein in invasive epithelial ovarian carcinoma are strongly associated with tumor cell invasion. Enhanced expression of TIMP-1 protein in borderline and invasive tumors indicates that endogenous TIMP-1 protein may play a paradoxical role in ovarian tumor progression.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.