Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) have been implicated in tumor progression. Matrilysin, one of the matrix metalloproteinases, is frequently overexpressed in gastrointestinal cancers. The aim of our study was to assess the validity of matrilysin as a prognostic marker of colorectal cancers. Matrilysin expression was immunohistochemically analyzed using formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded specimens from 113 colorectal cancer patients who had undergone curative surgery. The lumenal surface of neoplastic glands in the superficial layer was apically stained, while the cytoplasm of cancer cells at the invasive front was diffusely stained for matrilysin. Sections with immunostaining signals in more than 30% of carcinoma cells at the invasive front, which were observed in 47 (42%) cases, were judged as being positive for matrilysin. Matrilysin positivity was significantly correlated with the depth of invasion, lymph node metastasis, lymphatic invasion, advanced Dukes' stage and poor outcome. Patients with matrilysin-positive cancer had a significantly shorter overall survival time than those with matrilysin-negative cancer. For patients with intermediate invasive tumor (T2 or T3), only matrilysin was a significant prognostic variable for predicting overall survival in multivariate analysis. Matrilysin expression at the invasive front could be an important marker, predicting an unfavorable prognosis after surgical treatment in patients with colorectal cancer.
Copyright 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.