A variety of human neoplasms were examined for their ability to produce collagenolytic enzymes in culture. Some types of tumors of epithelial origin demonstrated a very high frequency of collagenolytic activity, while neoplasms of mesenchymal origin, nonneoplastic tissues, and other types of epithelial neoplasms only rarely produced collagenase. In particular, tumors of the colon and carcinomas of both squamous and basal cell origin displayed a high frequency of activity.
Tumor collagenases from several different sources were isolated and examined for their mode of attack on native collagen, pH optima, and inhibition of activity by EDTA, cysteine, and pooled human serum. Tumor enzymes appear to be similar to the collagenases isolated from normal human skin by these criteria.
This study was aided in part by Grant Q-383 from The Robert A. Welch Foundation, by Grant IN-27 from the American Cancer Society, and by Grant DRG-1170 from the Damon Runyon Memorial Fund for Cancer Research. A preliminary report of these experiments was presented by S. A. H. at the SAMA-UTMB National Student Research Forum, April 1971.