Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are a family of extracellular and membrane-associated endopeptidases, collectively digest almost all extracellular matrix and
basement membrane components, and thus play an important role in tumor progression (44,53). MMPs promote tumor angiogenesis by mobilizing or activating proangiogenic factors, such as bFGF, VEGF, and TGF-^ (54). Indeed, recent studies have revealed that MMPs are important during the early stages of tumor development, before metastasis occurs (54). The most important proteases are MMP -2 and -9, considered as a marker for tumor invasion and metastasis and recurrence of the disease (55,56). By cleavage of the proapoptotic FAS ligand, MMP-7 allows tumor cells to become resistant to apoptosis signals (57).
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