Open Access Research article

Detection of serum MMP-7 and MMP-9 in cholangiocarcinoma patients: evaluation of diagnostic accuracy

Kawin Leelawat12*, Sompong Sakchinabut1, Siriluck Narong1 and Jerasak Wannaprasert12

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Surgery, Rajavithi Hospital, Bangkok 10400, Thailand

2 Department of Surgery, College of Medicine, Rangsit University, Bangkok 10400, Thailand

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BMC Gastroenterology 2009, 9:30  doi:10.1186/1471-230X-9-30

Published: 30 April 2009



Cholangiocarcinoma is an aggressive tumor with a tendency for local invasion and distant metastases. Timely diagnosis is very important because surgical resection (R0) remains the only hope for a cure. However, at present, there is no available tumor marker that can differentiate cholangiocarcinoma from benign bile duct disease. Previous studies have demonstrated that matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-7 and MMP-9 are frequently expressed in cholangiocarcinoma specimens.


This study was designed to determine whether the serum levels of MMP-7 and MMP-9 can discriminate cholangiocarcinoma patients from benign biliary tract disease patients in comparison to carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) and carbohydrate antigen 19-9 (CA19-9). We measured the level of CEA, CA19-9, MMP-7 and MMP-9 in the serum of 44 cholangiocarcinoma and 36 benign biliary tract diseases patients.


Among the serum levels of CEA, CA19-9, MMP-7 and MMP-9, only the serum MMP-7 level was significantly higher in the patients with cholangiocarcinoma (8.9 ± 3.43 ng/ml) compared to benign biliary tract disease patients (5.9 ± 3.03 ng/ml) (p < 0.001). An receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis revealed that the detection of the serum MMP-7 level is reasonably accurate in differentiating cholangiocarcinoma from benign biliary tract disease patients (area under curve = 0.73; 95% CI = 0.614–0.848). While the areas under the curve of the ROC curves for CEA, CA19-9 and MMP-9 were 0.63 (95% CI = 0.501–0.760), 0.63 (95% CI = 0.491–0.761) and 0.59 (95% CI = 0.455–0.722), respectively.


Serum MMP-7 appears to be a valuable diagnostic marker in the discrimination of cholangiocarcinoma from benign biliary tract disease. Further prospective studies for serum MMP-7 measurement should be carried out to further investigate the potential of this molecule as a biomarker of cholangiocarcinoma.