Matrix metalloproteases in head and neck cancer

Head Neck. 2006 Jul;28(7):639-48. doi: 10.1002/hed.20365.


Matrix metalloproteases (MMPs) are a collection of enzymes capable of cleaving extracellular matrix components, growth factors, and cell-surface receptors. MMPs modulate most aspects of tumorigenesis and are highly expressed in cancer compared with normal tissues. Preclinical studies have demonstrated that head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCCs) express high levels of MMPs in vivo and that inhibition of these enzymes in vitro and in mouse models decreases invasion and metastasis. However, the clinical trials for MMP inhibitors have failed to demonstrate a significant survival advantage in most cancers. The disparity between preclinical and clinical studies has led to the reevaluation of how MMP functions in cancer and the design of clinical trials for molecularly targeted agents. Mouse model data and analysis of HNSCC tumor specimens suggests that membrane type-1 MMP (MT1-MMP) may be a critical enzyme in tumor cell invasion and survival in vivo. This accumulated data provide evidence for development of selective MT1-MMP inhibitors as therapy in HNSCC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / metabolism*
  • Catalysis
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Gene Deletion
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / physiology
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / enzymology*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / pathology
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 14 / metabolism
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 2
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase Inhibitors
  • Matrix Metalloproteinases / metabolism*
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness


  • Matrix Metalloproteinase Inhibitors
  • Matrix Metalloproteinases
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 2
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 14