Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 411, Issue 3, pp 639–646 | Cite as

MMP-11 as a biomarker for metastatic breast cancer by immunohistochemical-assisted imaging mass spectrometry

  • Raquel González de Vega
  • David Clases
  • María Luisa Fernández-SánchezEmail author
  • Noemí Eiró
  • Luis O. González
  • Francisco J. Vizoso
  • Philip A. DobleEmail author
  • Alfredo Sanz-Medel
Research Paper
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Elemental and Molecular Imaging by LA-ICP-MS


MMP-11 is a member of the matrix metalloproteinase family (MMPs) which are overexpressed in cancer cells, stromal cells and the adjacent microenvironment. The MMP protein family encompasses zinc-dependent endopeptidases that degrade the extracellular matrix (ECM), facilitating the breakdown of the basal membrane and matrix connective tissues. This function is believed to be important in cancer development and metastasis. This paper investigated a gold nanoparticle-based immunohistochemical assay to visualise the distribution of MMP-11 in human breast cancer tissues from eight patients with and without metastases by employing laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS). The expression of MMP-11 was increased and more heterogeneous in metastatic specimens compared to non-metastatic tumour samples. These findings demonstrate that imaging breast tumours by LA-ICP-MS may be a useful tool to aid the prognosis and treatment of breast cancer. As an example, samples of two patients are presented who were diagnosed with matching characteristics and grades of breast cancer. Although both patients had a similar prognosis and treatment, only one developed metastases.


Laser ablation Biological samples Immunoassays/ELISA Mass spectrometry/ICP-MS 


Funding information

This work was support by projects MINECO-17-CTQ2016-79412-P from the Spanish Government co-financed by FEDER programme of the European Union (EU), FC-15-GRUPIN14-092 from Fundación para la Investigación Científica Aplicada y la Tecnología (FICYT) from Principado de Asturias co-financed by EU and PAD is the recipient of an Australian Research Council Discovery Project (DP170100036).

Compliance with ethical standards

The study adheres to national regulations and was approved by the Hospital de Jove Foundation Ethics and Investigation Committee (PI02/2018). All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interests.

Supplementary material

216_2018_1365_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (1.5 mb)
ESM 1 (PDF 1.50 mb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Raquel González de Vega
    • 1
    • 2
  • David Clases
    • 2
  • María Luisa Fernández-Sánchez
    • 1
    Email author
  • Noemí Eiró
    • 3
  • Luis O. González
    • 3
    • 4
  • Francisco J. Vizoso
    • 3
  • Philip A. Doble
    • 2
    Email author
  • Alfredo Sanz-Medel
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Physical and Analytical Chemistry, Faculty of ChemistryUniversity of OviedoOviedoSpain
  2. 2.Elemental Bio-imaging FacilityUniversity of Technology SydneySydneyAustralia
  3. 3.Research UnitHospital de Jove FoundationGijónSpain
  4. 4.Department of Anatomical PathologyHospital de Jove FoundationGijónSpain

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