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Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2002 May 1;22(5):765-71.

Role of nuclear factor-kappa B activation in metalloproteinase-1, -3, and -9 secretion by human macrophages in vitro and rabbit foam cells produced in vivo.

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  • 1University of Bristol, Bristol Heart Institute, Bristol, UK.


Metalloproteinase secretion by macrophages is believed to play a key role in the matrix degradation that underlies atherosclerotic plaque instability and aneurysm formation. We studied the hypothesis that nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB), a transcription factor, is necessary for metalloproteinase secretion and, hence, is a target for pharmacological intervention. Adenovirus-mediated gene transfer of the inhibitory NF-kappaB subunit, I-kappa Balpha, was achieved into human monocyte-derived macrophages in vitro and into foam cells produced in vivo in cholesterol-fed rabbits. Human macrophages and rabbit foam cells secreted matrix-degrading metalloproteinase (MMP)-9 without further stimulation, and this was not inhibited by I-kappaBalpha (11+/-16% and 8+/-10%, respectively; P> 0.05). MMP-1 secretion from human macrophages increased in response to recombinant human CD40 ligand and was inhibited 92+/-5% by I-kappaBalpha (n=3, P<0.05). Rabbit foam cells secreted MMP-1 and -3 without further stimulation, and this was inhibited 83+/-12% and 69+/-11%, respectively, by I-kappaBalpha (n=6 or 7, P<0.001). I-kappaBalpha did not significantly affect the expression or activity of tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases-1 or -2. Overexpression of I-kappaBalpha inhibited collagenolytic and beta-caseinolytic activity by 42+/-2% and 41+/-7%, respectively (n=3, P<0.05). Secretion of MMP-1 and MMP-3 from macrophages stimulated in vitro or in vivo depends on the activation of NF-kappaB. Because the inhibition of NF-kappaB reduces proteolytic activity, it appears to be an attractive pharmacological target in unstable atheromas.

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