Significance of MMP-9 and VEGF-C expression in North Indian women with breast cancer diagnosis

  • Krishna Latha Thammineni
  • Gaurav K. Thakur
  • Navneet Kaur
  • Basu Dev BanerjeeEmail author


Metastasis accounts for the majority of cancer-associated mortality and renders the targeted therapy fruitless in the patients of breast cancer. Matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF-C) are thought to be involved in tumor progression and metastasis. The aim of this study was to investigate the expression of MMP-9 and VEGF-C at both mRNA and protein levels in breast cancer and to correlate with lymph node metastasis and other clinicopathological characteristics. Biopsy specimens (N = 100) of breast cancer & benign breast disease (N = 100) were investigated for the mRNA expression of MMP-9 and VEGF-C by Real-time PCR and Protein expression by Western blot. Elevated levels of MMP-9 (p < 0.001) and VEGF-C (p < 0.001) expression were detected in breast cancer with corresponding to benign breast disease. Additionally, we found significantly increased levels of MMP-9 and VEGF-C in node-positive group with respect to node-negative group. Moreover, the levels of MMP-9 were significantly increased in larger tumor size (T3/T4) (p < 0.05) as compared to smaller size (T1/T2), which suggests that MMP-9 plays an important role in the progression of breast cancer. VEGF-C expression was associated with the TNM stage of tumor (p < 0.05). Further, a significant positive correlation was established between the mRNA levels of these two genes (p < 0.001). However, we could not obtain any significant correlation between expression of these genes with other clinicopathological parameters like tumor grade, age, menopausal status, and receptor status like ER, PR, and Her2. This study suggests that the high expression of MMP-9 and VEGF-C could act as markers for the tumor presence in breast cancer. In addition, this study recommends that expression of MMP-9 and VEGF-C was significantly associated with lymph node status and may provide valuable diagnosis of lymph node metastasis in breast cancer patients. Further, MMP-9 expression was associated with the tumor size and VEGF-C expression was correlated with the staging of the tumor, although no association was observed with other clinicopathological variables.


Breast cancer Metastasis Lymph node metastasis Angiogenesis Matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) Vascular endothelial growth factor-C (VEGF-C) 



The authors have not received any grants. We would like to thank University Grants Commission for providing Senior Research Fellowship to one of the author. We are also thankful to Dr. Ankur (Department of Pathology, UCMS and GTB Hospital) for providing histopathology reports of the patients, Dr. Pravin Deshmukh for editing the manuscript, and Mr. Ranjeet Kumar for technical support. Last but not least, we are extremely thankful to all those patients who provided the samples and time for this study.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed consent

nformed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Environmental Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Laboratory, Department of BiochemistryUniversity College of Medical Sciences & G.T.B. Hospital (University of Delhi)DelhiIndia
  2. 2.Department of SurgeryUniversity College of Medical Sciences & G.T.B. Hospital (University of Delhi)DelhiIndia

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