Expression of latent matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP-9) predicts survival in advanced ovarian cancer

Gynecol Oncol. 2001 Aug;82(2):291-8. doi: 10.1006/gyno.2001.6243.


Objective: Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are frequently expressed in malignant tumors and play an important role in tumor invasion and metastasis. MMP-2 and MMP-9 expression has been correlated with poor survival in some tumors, but data for ovarian cancer are lacking, despite clinical trials with MMP inhibitors. The aim of this study was to assess activity of MMP-2 and MMP-9 and correlate it to prognosis in ovarian cancer.

Methods: MMP-2 and MMP-9 gelatinolytic activity was analyzed in 84 patients with advanced ovarian cancer FIGO stage III and 19 benign ovarian tumors by gelatin zymography. MMP-9 immunoreactivity was detected by immunohistochemistry and gelatinolytic activity was localized in ovarian cancer tissue by in situ zymography.

Results: were correlated with patient survival, with a median follow-up period of 55 months. Results. Median pro-MMP-9 activity was at 0.00 U/microg protein in benign ovarian tissues and 4.82 U/microg protein in ovarian cancer (P = 0.001); activated MMP-9 was not detected. Pro-MMP-2 expression in benign ovarian tissue did not differ from that of malignant ovarian tissue, whereas active MMP-2 was present in 52% of ovarian cancers, but absent in benign ovarian tissues. Analyzing all patients high pro-MMP-9 activity was associated with short overall survival (P = 0.019) while pro-MMP-2 and activated MMP-2 did not predict overall survival. When analyzing the subgroups of patients with and without residual tumor mass at the time of surgery, pro-MMP-9 was of prognostic value only in the subgroup of patients with no residual tumor mass. In univariate analysis pro-MMP-9 activity, residual tumor mass, age, ascites volume, and grading were of prognostic significance for overall survival. However, in multivariate analyses, including all biological and clinicopathologic variables, only pro-MMP-9 and residual disease remained statistically independent prognostic factors. In situ zymography localized gelatinolytic activity predominantly to the tumor cell nests displaying MMP-9 immunoreactivity.

Conclusions: Pro-MMP-9 gelatinolytic activity, but not active MMP-2 or MMP-9, serves as a useful statistically independent prognostic factor in ovarian cancer FIGO stage III, thus helping to identify ovarian cancer patients with an aggressive form of the disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Collagenases / metabolism
  • Enzyme Precursors / metabolism
  • Female
  • Gelatinases / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 2 / biosynthesis
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 2 / metabolism
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 9 / biosynthesis*
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 9 / metabolism
  • Metalloendopeptidases / metabolism
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / enzymology*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology
  • Prognosis
  • Survival Rate


  • Enzyme Precursors
  • Collagenases
  • Gelatinases
  • Metalloendopeptidases
  • pro-matrix metalloproteinase 9
  • progelatinase
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 2
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 9