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Comparative expression pattern of Matrix-Metalloproteinases in human glioblastoma cell-lines and primary cultures

Carsten Hagemann1*, Jelena Anacker2, Stefanie Haas3, Daniela Riesner1, Beate Schömig1, Ralf-Ingo Ernestus1 and Giles H Vince1

Author Affiliations

1 University of Würzburg, Department of Neurosurgery, Tumorbiology Laboratory, Würzburg, Germany

2 Department of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, University of Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany

3 Department of Internal Medicine I, Laboratory of Experimental Rheumatology and Neuroendocrino-Immunology, University of Regensburg, Regensburg, Germany

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BMC Research Notes 2010, 3:293  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-3-293

Published: 10 November 2010



Glioblastomas (GBM), the most frequent malignant brain tumors in adults, are characterized by an aggressive local growth pattern and highly invasive tumor cells. This invasion is facilitated by expression of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), a family of zinc-dependent endopeptidases. They mediate the degradation of protein components of the extracellular matrix. Twenty-three family members are known. Elevated levels of several of them have been reported in GBM. GBM cell-lines are used for in vitro studies of cell migration and invasion. Therefore, it is essential to know their MMP expression patterns. Only limited data for some of the cell-lines are published, yet. To fill the gaps in our knowledge would help to choose suitable model systems for analysis of regulation and function of MMPs during GBM tumorigenesis, cell migration and invasion.


We analysed MMP-1, -8, -9, -10, -11, -13, -17, -19, -20, -21, -23, -24, -26, -27, and MMP-28 expression in seven GBM cell-lines (SNB-19, GaMG, U251, U87, U373, U343, U138) and in four primary cell cultures by semiquantitative RT-PCR, followed changes in the MMP expression pattern with increasing passages of cell culture and examined the influence of TNF-α and TGF-β1 stimulation on the expression of selected MMPs in U251 and U373 cells.

MMP-13, -17, -19 and -24 were expressed by all analyzed cell-lines, whereas MMP-20 and MMP-21 were not expressed by any of them. The other MMPs showed variable expression, which was dependent on passage number. Primary cells displayed a similar MMP-expression pattern as the cell-lines. In U251 and U373 cells expression of MMP-9 and MMP-19 was stimulated by TNF-α. MMP-1 mRNA expression was significantly increased in U373 cells, but not in U251 cells by this cytokine. Whereas TGF-β1 had no impact on MMP expression in U251 cells, it significantly induced MMP-11 and MMP-24 expression in U373 cells.


Literature-data and our own results suggest that the expression pattern of MMPs is highly variable, dependent on the cell-line and the cell-culture conditions used and that also regulation of MMP expression by cytokines is cell-line dependent. This is of high impact for the transfer of cell-culture experiments to clinical implementation.