Background: Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are a group of zinc- dependent endopeptidases involved in the degradation of extracellular matrix components. MMPs have been implicated in a wide variety of physiological processes, such as angiogenesis, wound healing and tissue remodeling. However, recent studies have revealed a significant role for MMPs in tumorigenesis pathophysiology and prediction of patients' clinical outcome. Alterations in the regulation of MMP expression are thought to play an important role in the development and progression of central nervous system (CNS) malignancies.
Objective/methods: This study provides an up-to-date review of the literature on the pathophysiologic involvement of MMPs in the development and progression of human CNS malignancies, as well as the potential use of natural and/or synthetic MMP-inhibitors (MMPIs) as a targeted therapeutic approach to this group of neoplasms.
Results/conclusions: The currently available data provide clear evidence for the involvement of MMPs in the pathophysiology of astrocytomas, glioblastomas, meningiomas, medulloblastomas/primitive neuroectodermal tumors and pituitary tumors. The use of MMPIs in the treatment of CNS malignancies has, until now, reached controversial (but mainly disappointing) results that can nevertheless provide the basis for further investigation. The co-administration of other agents, the use of surgery and/or radiation, and elimination of the MMPIs-induced adverse effects, as well as the use of antisense technology, might be the tools by which the natural and synthetic MMPIs could find their place in everyday clinical practice for the management of CNS malignancies.