A number of extensive reviews are available discussing the roles of MMPs in various aspects of cancer progression from benign tumor formation to overt cancer present with deadly metastases. This review will focus specifically on the evidence functionally linking the MMPs and tumor-induced angiogenesis in various in vivo models. Emphasis has been placed on the cellular origin of the MMPs in tumor tissue, the requirement of proMMP activation and the resulting proteolytic activity for the induction and progression of tumor angiogenesis, and the pleiotropic roles for some of the MMPs. The functional mechanisms of the angiogenic MMPs are discussed as well as their catalytic detection in complex biological systems. In addition, the contribution of active MMPs to metastatic spread and establishment of secondary metastasis will be discussed in view of the findings indicating that MMPs are involved in the preparation of pre-metastatic niches. Finally, the most recent evidence, indicating the pro-metastatic consequences of anti-angiogenic therapies employing MMP inhibitors will be presented as examples highlighting possible outcomes of interfering with the pleiotropic nature of the MMP functionality.
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