, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 387-399

Matrix Metalloproteinase Inhibitors: Applications in Oncology

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Abstract

Matrix metalloproteinases (MMP) are a group of zinc dependentenzymes which include the interstitial collagenases, stromelysins,gelatinases and membrane-type metalloproteinases. They are involvedin the remodelling and turnover of the extracellular matrixproteins. They play a role in wound healing and the pathogenesis ofarthritis. In malignancies they play a role in tumor invasion,metastasis and angiogenesis. A number of synthetic matrixmetalloproteinase inhibitors (MMPIs) have been developed forclinical use. In preclinical tumor models they have shown promisingactivity in achievinginhibition of MMPs and reducing tumor growth and metastatic spread.Some have also shown additive or synergistic effects with cytotoxicagents. Phase I and II studies in human subjects have defined themain side effects of these agents as beingmusculoskeletal pains or arthralgias. As they are cytostatic agentsrather than cytotoxic in activity conventional measurements ofradiological response for assessment are not applicable in trials.Biological activity has been demonstrated in certain cancers by theeffects on levels of tumor markers as surrogate markers of tumorresponse and also by a fibrotic stromal reaction seen in tumortissue. Newer agents have been developed withselective inhibition of certain MMPs in an attempt to reduce theside effects. A number of phase III human clinical trialsevaluating MMPs are being carried out at present but onlyone has been formally reported so far. This study suggested thatmarimastat had no survival advantage when compared to chemotherapywith gemcitabine in advanced pancreatic carcinoma. Current trialsare assessing efficacy of MMPIs in maintenance of remission afterother modalities of therapy or in combination with cytotoxicagents. MMPs have also been demonstrated to play an important rolein the articular cartilage destruction seen in both rheumatoidarthritis and osteoarthritis. The use of MMPIs in both exvivoand in vivomodels have shown promising resultsand trials are in process to assess their potential role in thecontrol of articular destruction. The true therapeutic role ofMMPIs await the results of these randomized studies.