Immunolocalization of matrix metalloproteinases and their inhibitors in clinical specimens of bone metastasis from breast carcinoma
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Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are essential in several stages of the metastatic process, and in normal bone development and remodeling. We explored whether the interaction between tumor cells and bone leads to changes in MMP and tissue inhibitor of MMP (TIMP) expression thus affecting osteolysis in metastatic bone disease. Using immunohistochemistry we have investigated the MMP/TIMP expression in tumor cells, fibroblasts, osteoblasts and osteoclasts. Thirty one specimens of bone metastasis from breast carcinoma were stained for MMP-1, -2, -9, MT1-MMP and TIMP-1, and -2 and compared with staining in normal breast tissue, primary breast carcinoma and normal bone. Specimens came from patients in three clinical scenarios: from open biopsies without or with pathological fracture, or bone marrow biopsies containing tumor from patients with pancytopenia but without clinical evidence of osteolysis. By bone histomorphometry the latter group showed a heavy tumor load not different from the open biopsy groups but displayed little active bone resorption and low numbers of osteoclasts. Cell type-specific MMP/TIMP expression was observed and the staining patterns were comparable between the three groups of patients. Though no major differences in the MMP/TIMP staining of tumor cells and fibroblasts were observed between bone metastasis and primary tumor, we showed that tumor cells do express MMPs capable of degrading bone matrix collagen. The number and activity of osteoclasts and osteoblasts was increased dramatically in bone metastases, their MMP/TIMP profiles, however, were not different from normal bone, suggesting that the mechanism of bone degradation by osteoclasts is not different from normal bone remodelling.