The role of proteolytic enzymes in cancer invasion and metastasis

Clin Exp Metastasis. 1992 May;10(3):145-55. doi: 10.1007/BF00132746.


The production of metastasis appears to involve a number of different proteases including the urokinase form of plasminogen activator, cathepsin B, cathepsin D and various metalloproteases. Early data implicating these proteases in metastasis were mostly indirect and based on correlation studies in animal models. More recent work, using specific protease inhibitors and antibodies against proteases to block experimental metastasis, have provided more direct evidence that proteases play a role in cancer spread. In addition, transfection of genes encoding certain proteases increases the metastatic phenotype of the recipient cells. In human tumours, a number of different proteases also correlate with metastatic potential. It is concluded that certain proteases may be new prognostic markers in cancer as well as new targets for anti-metastatic therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis
  • Endopeptidases / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness*
  • Neoplasm Metastasis*
  • Prognosis


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Endopeptidases