Matrix metalloproteinases and gut toxicity following cytotoxic cancer therapy

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Purpose of review

Chemotherapy is an effective anticancer treatment; however, it induces mucositis in a wide range of patients. This condition is characterized by pain and ulceration, vomiting, bloating and diarrhea, depending on the area of the alimentary tract affected. Although treatment is available for a small subset of patients suffering from mucositis, the majority rely on pain relief as their only treatment option. Much progress has been made in recent years into understanding the pathobiology underlying the development of mucositis and matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) have been implicated as being key mediators. The purpose of this review was to evaluate recent literature implicating MMPs in mucositis.

Recent findings

MMPs are well known for their roles in induction of inflammation and contribution to tissue injury. Recent literature provides a role for MMPs in mucositis development possibly through inflammatory pathways, alterations in extracellular matrix composition, adhesion molecules and tight junctions.


Better understanding of the precise roles of MMPs is now required in order to target appropriate treatment strategies.

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