Expression of matrix metalloproteinase-9 in the neoplastic and interstitial inflammatory infiltrate cells in the different histopathological types of esophageal cancer

Folia Histochem Cytobiol. 2008;46(4):471-8. doi: 10.2478/v10042-008-0065-9.


Metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) is the proteolytic enzyme degrading type IV collagen, and plays important role in the invasiveness and metastatic potential of tumor cells. The aim of the current study was to compare the association between the intensity of MMP-9 expression in neoplastic cells and in the interstitial inflammatory infiltrate cells in esophageal cancer with clinicopathological features of esophageal cancer (EC) and in different histopatological types of EC, e.g. adenocarcinoma and esophageal squamous cell carcinoma. The study included 32 EC patients, 17 cases of squamous cell carcinoma and 15 cases of adenocarcinoma, verified histopatologically. The presence of MMP-9 in cancer tissue was investigated by immunohistochemistry on formalin-fixed, wax-embedded sections of esophageal cancers. The light microscopy was used to evaluate the expression of metalloproteinase-9 in cancer cells and in inflammatory infiltrate in the neoplastic interstitium in semi-quantitative scale. The expression of MMP-9 in cancer cells was positive in 81% of cases whereas in inflammatory cells - in 75% and increased with tumor stage, depth of tumor invasion (T factor) and lymph node metastases (N factor). In squamous cell cancer the MMP-9 expression in cancer cells and in inflammatory infiltrate was higher than those in adenocarcinoma. Mean value of MMP-9 expression in inflammatory cells was higher in early stages of EC, whereas mean expression of this enzyme in cancer cells increased with tumor stage. In conclusion, this is the first study comparing the expression of metalloproteinase-9 in cancer and inflamatory infiltrate cells in different histopatological types of esophageal cancer. We proved the synthesis of MMP-9 by cancer cells as well as by inflammatory cells and its correlation with tumor stage, tumor size, depth of tumor invasion and lymph node metastases. The results suggest the role of MMP-9 in esophageal tumorigenesis, although this issue requires further investigations.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / classification
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / enzymology*
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / pathology*
  • Male
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 9 / metabolism*
  • Middle Aged


  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 9