Open Access Research article

Lack of MMP-9 expression is a marker for poor prognosis in Dukes’ B colorectal cancer

Selja Koskensalo1, Jaana Hagström2, Nina Linder3, Mikael Lundin3, Timo Sorsa4, Johanna Louhimo1 and Caj Haglund12*

Author affiliations

1 Department of Surgery, Helsinki University Central Hospital, P.O. Box 440, 00029 HUS, Helsinki, Finland

2 Department of Pathology, Haartman Institute, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, FIN-00014 HY, Finland

3 Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM), University of Helsinki, Helsinki, FIN-00014 HY, Finland

4 Institute of Dentistry, University of Helsinki and Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Diseases, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki, Finland

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Citation and License

BMC Clinical Pathology 2012, 12:24  doi:10.1186/1472-6890-12-24

Published: 7 December 2012



Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) play a role in cancer progression by degrading extracellular matrix and basement membranes, assisting in tumour neovascularization and in supporting immune response in cancer.


We studied the prognostic value of immunohistochemical expression of MMP-2, MMP-8, and MMP-9 in a series of 619 colorectal cancer patients using tissue microarray specimens.


Of the samples, 56% were positive for MMP-2, 78% for MMP-8, and 60% for MMP-9. MMP-9 associated with low WHO grade (p < 0.001). In univariate analysis of Dukes’ B tumours, MMP-9 negativity associated with poor survival (p = 0.018), and MMP-9 positivity was an independent prognostic marker in multivariate analysis of these tumours (p = 0.034).


Negative MMP-9 expression can predict poor prognosis in Dukes’ B colorectal tumours and may prove useful for identifying patients, who should be offered adjuvant treatment.

MMP-2; MMP-8; MMP-9; Colorectal cancer; Prognosis; Immunohistochemistry