Invasion and metastasis of hepatocellular carcinoma in relation to urokinase-type plasminogen activator, its receptor and inhibitor

Q Zheng, Z Y Tang, Q Xue, D R Shi, H Y Song, H B Tang
Journal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology 2000, 126 (11): 641-6
This study was designed to investigate the relationship of urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA), uPA receptor (uPAR), and plasminogen activator inhibitor type-1 (PAI-1) to invasion and metastasis of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The expression of uPA, uPAR, and PAI-1 in HCC was determined by immunohistochemistry, Northern blot, and an LCI-D20 nude mouse metastatic model of HCC. The overexpression of uPA, uPAR, and PAI-1 was found in HCC, especially in the patients with portal cancer embolus, tumor invasion, and metastasis. Immunohistochemistry results showed that the rate of positive staining of uPA, uPAR, and PAI-1 were higher in HCC than those in the control groups consisting of cancer-adjacent tissue and normal liver tissue. In the case of HCC invasion, positive uPA and uPAR were seen in 16 and 19 out of 22 patients, respectively (P<0.01 and P<0.001, respectively, as compared with the patients without invasion). In those with portal cancer embolus and tumor metastasis, positive uPAR was eight out of eight and six out of six patients. In those with tumor recurrence, positive uPAR was 15 out of 17 patients (P<0.01 vs. no recurrence). In patients who died within 2 years after surgery, positive uPAR was 12 out of 12 patients (P<0.01 vs. survival), and positive PAI-1 was nine out of 12 patients (P<0.05 vs. survival). In those in which uPA, uPAR, and PAI-1 were all positive staining, stronger cancer invasiveness and higher mortality were found (P<0.05 vs. patients with all negative staining). In 30 patients tested with Northern blot analysis, the results were similar to those tested with immunohistochemistry. Higher expression of uPA mRNA and PAI-1 mRNA were detected in tumor tissues and embolus. In the patients with positive signals of uPA mRNA and PAI-1 mRNA, invasive cases were found in seven out of 19 and eight out of 18 patients, respectively, which were significantly higher than those showing negative signals (P<0.05). In the LCI-D20 nude mouse metastatic model of HCC (MMHCC), PAI-1 activity in plasma and tumor tissue increased with tumor growth, invasion, and metastasis. At an advanced stage of MMHCC, PAI-1 activity rose to 15.4+/-0.7 Au/ml in plasma and 0.8+/-0.3 Au/mg in tumor extracts, which was significantly higher than 6.2+/-1.8 Au/ml in plasma and 0.4+/-0.1 Au/mg in extracts at an early stage (P<0.05). PAI-1 activity related to the changes of serum AFP and tumor progress were r = 0.9544 and r = 0.9648, respectively (P<0.05). The data suggest that the expression of uPA, uPAR, and PAI-1 is increased in HCC, and related to the invasiveness, metastasis, and prognosis of HCC.

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