Localization of MT1-MMP, TIMP-1, TIMP-2, and TIMP-3 messenger RNA in normal, hyperplastic, and neoplastic endometrium. Enhanced expression by endometrial adenocarcinomas is associated with low differentiation.
We studied membrane-type matrix metalloproteinase-1 (MT1-MMP), tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-1 (TIMP-1), TIMP-2, and TIMP-3 messenger RNA (mRNA) using in situ hybridization to elucidate their temporal and spatial expression patterns in normal, hyperplastic, and neoplastic endometrium. All mRNAs studied were expressed weakly in proliferating endometrium but were induced strongly in late secretory endometrium except MT1-MMP. Endometrial hyperplasia samples did not show increased MT1-MMP or TIMP mRNA expression, indicating that the overall expression patterns in hyperplasia are comparable to those in proliferating endometrium under estrogen effect and that synthesis of extracellular matrix proteins, rather than degradation, predominates in this condition. Exceptionally, stromal cells in areas of desquamation were seen to express focally intense MT1-MMP mRNA in hyperplasia samples. All mRNAs investigated were expressed increasingly in endometrial adenocarcinomas, especially in less differentiated carcinomas. Furthermore, gelatin zymography revealed higher functional degradative activities in carcinoma tissues than in normal endometrium. Our results indicate that MT1-MMP expression, together with that of TIMPs, is involved most notably in normal endometrium under progesterone effect and, without being connected to cyclic hormonal levels, has an important role in the invasive growth of endometrial adenocarcinomas.