Objectives. Gliomas, tumors derived from glial cells, represent about 50% of all cerebral tumors. The aim of this review is to outline the role of matrix metalloproteinases in the pathological mechanism underlying the development of gliomas.
Review. Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are a group of proteolytic enzymes that modify the tissue structure andfunction under various physiological and pathological conditions. MMPs activity in the nervous tissue was observed to increase in the process of cancerogenesis. In this type of tissue extracellular matrix (ECM) is produced mainly by glial cell secretion. Pathological ECM changes usually result from glial cells' function impairment due to the carcinogenic process, leading eventually to glioma development. Substrate specificity of MMPs in the CNS was demonstrated, as well as a positive correlation between MMPs activity and cancer progression. MMP-2, MMP-9 and MMP-14 were evidenced to be the main proteolytic enzymes in the brain tissue ECM under pathological conditions. Moreover, collagen proteins type I, II, III, IV, V, laminin, fibronectin, aggrecan, perlecan and tenascin were found to be the main substrates for those enzymes.
Conclusions. Understanding the MMPs function in glioma progression will allow to enlarge the present body of knowledge about this cancer group. In the future MMPs may also serve as a potential prognostic marker.