Tumor Biology

, Volume 34, Issue 4, pp 2041–2051 | Cite as

Matrix metalloproteinases in cancer: their value as diagnostic and prognostic markers and therapeutic targets

  • Elin Hadler-OlsenEmail author
  • Jan-Olof Winberg
  • Lars Uhlin-Hansen


Biomarkers are used as tools in cancer diagnostics and in treatment stratification. In most cancers, there are increased levels of one or several members of the matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). This is a family of proteolytic enzymes that are involved in many phases of cancer progression, including angiogenesis, invasiveness, and metastasis. It has therefore been expected that MMPs could serve as both diagnostic and prognostic markers in cancer patients, but despite a huge number of studies, it has been difficult to establish MMPs as cancer biomarkers. In the present paper, we assess some of the challenges associated with MMP research as well as putative reasons for the conflicting data on the value of these enzymes as diagnostic and prognostic markers in cancer patients. We also review the prognostic value of a number of MMPs in patients with lung, colorectal, breast, and prostate cancers. The review also discusses MMPs as potential target molecules for therapeutic agents and new strategies for development of such drugs.


Matrix metalloproteinase Cancer Biomarkers Drug design 



This work was supported by grants from The Norwegian Cancer Society, The North Norwegian Regional Health Authorities, and The Erna and Olav Aakre Foundation for Cancer Research.

Conflict of interest



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Copyright information

© International Society of Oncology and BioMarkers (ISOBM) 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elin Hadler-Olsen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jan-Olof Winberg
    • 1
  • Lars Uhlin-Hansen
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Medical Biology, Faculty of Health SciencesUniversity of TromsøTromsøNorway
  2. 2.Department of PathologyUniversity Hospital of North NorwayTromsøNorway

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