IMR Press / FBL / Volume 13 / Issue 11 / DOI: 10.2741/2991

Frontiers in Bioscience-Landmark (FBL) is published by IMR Press from Volume 26 Issue 5 (2021). Previous articles were published by another publisher on a subscription basis, and they are hosted by IMR Press on as a courtesy and upon agreement with Frontiers in Bioscience.

The possible biological role of metallothionein in apoptosis
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1 Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery of the Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland
2 Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics of the Medical University, Katowice, Poland
3 Department of Pathomorphology of the Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland

*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.


Front. Biosci. (Landmark Ed) 2008, 13(11), 4029–4038;
Published: 1 May 2008

Metallothioneins (MTs) are a family of low molecular weight proteins with a high affinity for divalent metals. Metallothionein has been shown to have a protective role in apoptosis. Specifically, it controls the cellular zinc ion levels. The proper intracellular Zn2+ level maintains the fragmentation of DNA associated with caspase-3 activity. In cancer nests, MT has been identified in the peripheral regions and associated with higher cell proliferation rates and fewer positive apoptotic cells. The expression of MT in the stroma has been linked with tumor spread. The tumor stroma may respond to tumor growth and aggressiveness by the expression of MT, thus protecting itself from and developing a resistance to apoptosis. Multistep carcinogenesis is related to a breakdown in immune response that enables tumor progression and dissemination. This breakdown is a crucial for tumor survival. The evaluation of MT expression in cancer and its stroma seems to correlate with the level of immune system inhibition in cancer-adjacent stroma.

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