Maspin: molecular mechanisms and therapeutic implications

Cancer Metastasis Rev. 2012 Dec;31(3-4):529-51. doi: 10.1007/s10555-012-9361-0.


Maspin, a non-inhibitory member of the serine protease inhibitor superfamily, has been characterized as a tumor suppressor gene in multiple cancer types. Among the established anti-tumor effects of Maspin are the inhibition of cancer cell invasion, attachment to extracellular matrices, increased sensitivity to apoptosis, and inhibition of angiogenesis. However, while significant experimental data support the role of Maspin as a tumor suppressor, clinical data regarding the prognostic implications of Maspin expression have led to conflicting results. This highlights the need for a better understanding of the context dependencies of Maspin in normal biology and how these are perturbed in the context of cancer. In this review, we outline the regulation and roles of Maspin in normal and developmental biology while discussing novel evidence and emerging theories related to its functions in cancer. We provide insight into the immense therapeutic potential of Maspin and the challenges related to its successful clinical translation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Apoptosis
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Humans
  • Integrins / physiology
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neovascularization, Physiologic
  • Nitric Oxide / physiology
  • Protein Binding
  • Recombinant Proteins / therapeutic use
  • Serpins / chemistry
  • Serpins / genetics
  • Serpins / physiology*
  • Serpins / therapeutic use*
  • Tamoxifen / pharmacology
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / physiology


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Integrins
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Serpins
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • Tamoxifen
  • Nitric Oxide