Clinical impact of the plasminogen activation system in tumor invasion and metastasis: prognostic relevance and target for therapy

Thromb Haemost. 1997 Jul;78(1):285-96.


Extravasation and intravasation of solid malignant tumors is controlled by attachment of tumor cells to components of the basement membrane and the extracellular matrix, by local proteolysis and tumor cell migration. Strong clinical and experimental evidence has accumulated that the tumor-associated serine protease plasmin, its activator uPA (urokinase-type plasminogen activator), the receptor uPA-R (CD87), and the inhibitors PAI-1 and PAI-2 are linked to cancer invasion and metastasis. In cancer, increase of uPA, uPA-R, and/or PAI-1 is associated with tumor progression and with shortened disease-free and/or overall survival in patients afflicted with malignant solid tumors. uPA and/or its inhibitor PAI-1 appear to be one of the strongest prognostic markers so far described. Strong prognostic value to predict disease recurrence and overall survival has been documented for patients with cancer of the breast, ovary, cervix, endometrium, stomach, colon, lung, bladder, kidney, brain, and soft-tissue. Due to the strong correlation between elevated uPA and/or PAI-1 values in primary cancer tissues and the tumor invasion/ metastasis capacity of cancer cells, proteolytic factors have been selected as targets for therapy. Various very different approaches to interfere with the expression or reactivity of uPA or CD87 at the gene or protein level were successfully tested including antisense oligonucleotides, antibodies, enzyme inhibitors, and recombinant or synthetic uPA and uPA-R analogues.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Oligonucleotides, Antisense / therapeutic use
  • Plasminogen Activators*
  • Prognosis
  • Survival Rate


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Oligonucleotides, Antisense
  • Plasminogen Activators