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Derm News: 2007.17(8)

Expression of matrilysin (matrix metalloproteinase-7) in primary cutaneous and metastatic melanoma

British Journal of Dermatology, 156(4):613-619
K. Kawasaki, T. Kawakami, H. Watabe, F. Itoh, M. Mizoguchi, Y. Soma


Matrilysin (MMP-7), a member of the matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) family of proteins, is expressed in various types of malignant tumours. There have been no previous studies of the correlation between matrilysin expression and melanoma.


Protein expression of matrilysin was evaluated in human cutaneous melanomas, metastatic melanomas, acquired common melanocytic naevi and Spitz naevi, and the data were corrected with the clinicopathological factors.


We retrospectively investigated 18 primary melanomas, 15 metastatic melanomas, 10 common melanocytic naevi and five Spitz naevi samples at our clinic using immunohistochemistry (IHC). Both promatrilysin and active matrilysin were found in the melanoma tissue extracts by Western immunoblotting. In situ hybridization demonstrated that melanoma cells selectively express matrilysin mRNA.


Of the melanoma samples, 29 of 33 (879%) were positive for matrilysin, including 14 of 18 (778%) primary cutaneous melanomas and 15 of 15 (100%) metastatic melanomas. In contrast, matrilysin was not expressed in common naevi or Spitz naevi. The matrilysin IHC staining score in primary melanomas was associated with the presence of metastases, tumour thickness and TNM staging (P = 0001, 0025 and 0021, respectively). The 5-year overall survival was 263% for matrilysin-positive cases and 100% for matrilysin-negative cases among melanoma specimen.


We found matrilysin expression in primary melanomas and in metastatic melanomas. We further demonstrated that the matrilysin IHC staining score was associated with invasive depth of primary melanoma lesions and metastases. Our observations indicate that matrilysin may be associated with melanoma progression, and may enhance melanoma tumour cell invasion. Therefore, matrilysin may be potentially valuable as a prognostic indicator to predict the clinical behaviour of melanoma.

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The Derm News service provided by the Editorial Consultants of Skin Therapy Letter© and its founding editor Dr. Stuart Maddin.