Tumor cell density regulates matrix metalloproteinases for enhanced migration

Hasini Jayatilaka, Fatima G. Umanzor, Vishwesh Shah, Tomer Meirson, Gabriella Russo, Bartholomew Starich, Pranay Tyle, Jerry S.H. Lee, Shyam Khatau, Hava Gil-Henn, Denis Wirtz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) may play a critical role in metastatic cancers, yet multiple human clinical trials targeting MMPs have surprisingly failed. Cancer cell density changes dramatically during the early growth of a primary tumor and during the early seeding steps of secondary tumors and has been implicated in playing an important role in regulating metastasis and drug resistance. This study reveals that the expression of MMPs is tightly regulated by local tumor cell density through the synergistic signaling mechanism of Interleukin 6 (IL-6) and Interleukin 8 (IL-8) via the JAK2/STAT3 complex. Local tumor cell density also plays a role in the responsiveness of cells to matrix metalloproteinases inhibitors (MMPI), such as Batimastat, Marimastat, Bryostatin I, and Cipemastat, where different migratory phenotypes are observed in low and high cell density conditions. Cell densitydependent MMP regulation can be directly targeted by the simultaneous inhibition of IL-6 and IL-8 receptors via Tocilizumab and Reparixin to significantly decrease the expression of MMPs in mouse xenograft models and decrease effective metastasis. This study reveals a new strategy to decrease MMP expression through pharmacological intervention of the cognate receptors of IL-6 and IL-8 to decrease metastatic capacity of tumor cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32556-32569
Number of pages14
Issue number66
StatePublished - 24 Aug 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Cell migration
  • Interleukin 6
  • Interleukin 8
  • Matrix metalloproteinases


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