Fibulin-5 regulates MMP-7 abundance in HCC. A) Fibulin-5 overexpression decreased the level of MMP-7 protein in HCC-LM3 cells. n = six independent experiments; *P < 0.05 by t test. B) Fibulin-5 knockdown led to accumulation of MMP-7 protein in MHCC97L cells. n = six independent experiments; *P < 0.05 by t test. C) In cases of high Fibulin-5 protein expression (I), there was no detectable MMP-7 protein expression (II) in the same tissue section. In contrast, in the case of low Fibulin-5 protein expression (III), there was strong MMP-7 protein expression (IV). Scale bar: 100 μm. D) Fibulin-5 and MMP-7 expression in 86 HCC samples analyzed by immunohistochemistry. A significant inverse correlation between Fibulin-5 and MMP-7 expression was observed in HCC. P < 0.05 by two-tailed chi-square test.