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Brain Res. 2003 Mar 28;967(1-2):132-43.

Differential expression of matrix metalloproteinases in monkey eyes with experimental glaucoma or optic nerve transection.

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  • 1Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, Washington University School of Medicine, 660 S. Euclid Avenue, Box 8096, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA.


Extracellular matrix (ECM) remodeling after neuronal injury and reactive gliosis is carried out by activation of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) regulated by their tissue inhibitors (TIMPs). In glaucoma, there is a loss of retinal ganglion cells and extensive ECM remodeling (cupping) at the level of the optic nerve head, frequently associated with elevated intraocular pressure. To determine whether ECM remodeling in the glaucomatous optic nerve head occurs in response to loss of axons or to elevated intraocular pressure we compared the patterns of MMP and TIMP expression in the eyes of monkeys with laser-induced glaucoma or with optic nerve transection. MT1-MMP and MMP1 expression was markedly increased in reactive astrocytes in optic nerve heads with experimental glaucoma but not in the optic nerve head of transected eyes. In normal control eyes retinal ganglion cells expressed MMP2, TIMP1 and TIMP2 constitutively, and the proteins were detected in their axons. At the site of transection, MT1-MMP, MMP1, MMP2, TIMP1 and TIMP2 were expressed by reactive astrocytes. Inflammatory cells, fibroblasts and reactive astrocytes at the transected site expressed MMP3 and MMP9, which were undetectable in the retina and optic nerve head in any condition. Constitutive expression of MMP2, TIMP1 and TIMP2 in retinal ganglion cells suggests a role in maintenance of synaptic integrity and plasticity and maintenance of the periaxonal space. Increased MMP1 and MT1-MMP1 expression in the glaucomatous optic nerve head is specific to tissue remodeling due to elevated intraocular pressure and not secondary to loss of axons.

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