Squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck are known for their aggressive growth and propensity to metastasize. Invasion is facilitated by matrix metalloproteineases (MMPs). Tissue inhibitors of MMPs (TIMPs) negatively regulate MMP activity. MMP and TIMP expression in head and neck squamous cell carcinomas was determined by quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR). qRT-PCR allows measurement of several mRNAs from as little as 4 μg of total cellular RNA. We measured MMP-1, MMP-2, MMP-9, and TIMP-1 expression in 8 specimens of primary tumors and adjacent normal tissue. MMP-1 was overexpressed in 6 of 8 tumors, and MMP-9 was over-expressed in 4 of 7 tumors. MMP-2 was expressed in 3 of 8 tumors and 3 of 8 normal samples. TIMP-1 was expressed in all specimens. This work demonstrates that qRT-PCR can be used to examine expression of specific mRNAs in clinical specimens. Therefore this method provides another tool for the molecular analysis of tumors.
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