Clinical & Experimental Metastasis

, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 145-155

First online:

The role of proteolytic enzymes in cancer invasion and metastasis

  • M. J. DuffyAffiliated withNuclear Medicine Department, St Vincent's Hospital

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The production of metastasis appears to involve a number of different proteases including the urokinase form of plasminogen activator, cathepsin B, cathepsin D and various metalloproteases. Early data implicating these proteases in metastasis were mostly indirect and based on correlation studies in animal models. More recent work, using specific protease inhibitors and antibodies against proteases to block experimental metastasis, have provided more direct evidence that proteases play a role in cancer spread. In addition, transfection of genes encoding certain proteases increases the metastatic phenotype of the recipient cells. In human tumours, a number of different proteases also correlate with metastatic potential. It is concluded that certain proteases may be new prognostic markers in cancer as well as new targets for anti-metastatic therapy.


cancer metastasis cathepsin B and D metalloproteases proteases urokinase plasminogen activator