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MMPs in Cancer

Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) play a complex role in cancer progression and treatment, breaking down extracellular matrix components, facilitating tumor invasion and metastasis.

MMPs that are commonly associated with cancer:

  1. MMP-2 (also known as gelatinase A)
  2. MMP-9 (also known as gelatinase B)
  3. MMP-14 (also known as MT1-MMP)
  4. MMP-1 (also known as interstitial collagenase)
  5. MMP-7 (also known as matrilysin)
  6. MMP-3 (also known as stromelysin-1)
  7. MMP-11 (also known as stromelysin-3)
  8. MMP-13 (also known as collagenase-3)

These MMPs are often overexpressed in cancer cells and can break down extracellular matrix components, allowing cancer cells to invade surrounding tissues and spread to other parts of the body. Therefore, targeting MMP activity has become an important area of cancer research.

MMPs are implicated in various types of cancer: including breast cancer, lung cancer, colorectal cancer, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, and others. MMPs have been shown to play a role in tumor invasion, angiogenesis, and metastasis, which are important steps in cancer progression.

Multiple MMPs have been implicated in breast cancer: MMP-1, MMP-2, MMP-3, MMP-7, MMP-9, MMP-11, and MMP-13. MMP-2 and MMP-9 are particularly important in breast cancer.

Several MMPs have been implicated in prostate cancer: MMP-2, MMP-7, MMP-9, and MMP-13.

Multiple MMPs have been implicated in lung cancer: MMP-1, MMP-2, MMP-3, MMP-7, MMP-9, MMP-12, and MMP-13.

Several MMPs have been implicated in pancreatic cancer: MMP-2, MMP-7, MMP-9, and MMP-14.


MMP-targeted therapies are a class of cancer treatments that aim to inhibit the activity of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). There are several different approaches to MMP-targeted therapy:

  1. Broad-spectrum MMP inhibitors: These are non-specific inhibitors that target a wide range of MMPs. However, these inhibitors have had limited success in clinical trials, likely due to their lack of specificity and potential off-target effects.
  2. Selective MMP inhibitors: These inhibitors are designed to target specific MMPs that are known to be involved in cancer progression. By targeting specific MMPs, it may be possible to reduce the risk of off-target effects and improve treatment efficacy.
  3. Antibody-based therapies: Antibodies can be developed that specifically recognize and bind to MMPs, which can prevent them from carrying out their functions. This approach may offer improved specificity compared to small molecule inhibitors.
  4. Combination therapies: MMP inhibitors can be combined with other cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy, to enhance treatment efficacy. For example, MMP inhibitors may help to reduce tumor invasion and metastasis, while chemotherapy or radiation therapy can target the primary tumor.

While MMP-targeted therapies have shown promise in preclinical studies, their efficacy in clinical trials has been limited thus far. This may be due to the complex and multifaceted roles of MMPs in cancer, as well as the challenges associated with developing inhibitors that are both effective and well-tolerated. However, researchers continue to explore new approaches to MMP-targeted therapy, with the hope of improving cancer treatment outcomes in the future.

Recombinant MMPs can be used in cancer studies to investigate the specific roles of MMPs in tumor progression and metastasis. By adding or inhibiting the activity of specific MMPs, researchers can study the effects on tumor growth and invasiveness. Recombinant MMPs can also be used to screen for potential anti-cancer drugs that target MMPs, and to develop personalized treatment strategies based on the patient’s MMP profile.

Recombinant MMPs can be used to investigate the role of MMPs in angiogenesis, the process by which new blood vessels form to supply tumors with nutrients and oxygen, which is a critical step in cancer development.

Recombinant MMPs can be used in preclinical studies to evaluate the efficacy of potential cancer therapies and to investigate drug resistance mechanisms.

Cesar Masitas, Zhihong Peng, Man Wang, Mohini Mohan Konai, Luis F. Avila-Cobian, Leslie Lemieux, John Hovanesian, James E. Grady, Shahriar Mobashery, and Mayland Chang Matrix Metalloproteinase-14 as an Instigator of Fibrosis in Human Pterygium and Its Pharmacological Intervention, ACS Pharmacol. Transl. Sci. 2022, 5, 8, 555–561.
Wang HL, Zhou PY, Zhang Y, Liu P. Relationships between abnormal MMP2 expression and prognosis in gastric cancer: a meta-analysis of cohort studies. Cancer Biother Radiopharm. 2014 May;29(4):166-72.
Carey P, Low E, Harper E, Stack MS. Metalloproteinases in Ovarian Cancer. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Mar 26;22(7):3403.

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