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Stroke. 2006 Jul;37(7):1731-6. Epub 2006 May 25.

Impaired inhibitory effect of interleukin-10 on the balance between matrix metalloproteinase-9 and its inhibitor in mononuclear cells from hyperhomocysteinemic subjects.

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  • 1Lipid Clinic, Rikshospitalet University Hospital, Oslo, Norway. kirsten.holven@medisin.uio.no



Homocysteine has been linked to increased risk of ischemic stroke and other cardiovascular events, but the mechanism by which elevated plasma levels of homocysteine promotes atherogenesis remains unclear. Matrix degradation, partly regulated by the balance between matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and tissue inhibitors of MMPs (TIMPs), plays an important role in atherogenesis and plaque destabilization, and we hypothesized an imbalance between MMPs and TIMPs in hyperhomocysteinemia.


Serum MMP-9 and TIMP-1 was measured in 12 hyperhomocysteinemic and 12 control subjects. The release of MMP-9 and TIMP-1, with and without interleukin-10 (IL-10), and the effect of IL-10 on signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) phosphorylation were measured in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from hyperhomocysteinemic and control subjects.


Our main findings were: (1) hyperhomocysteinemic subjects had raised serum levels of MMP-9 and MMP-9/TIMP-1 ratio comparing healthy controls; (2) although IL-10 markedly suppressed MMP-9 release from PBMCs in controls, no or only minor effect was seen in hyperhomocysteinemic subjects; (3) although IL-10 enhanced TIMP-1 levels in PBMCs from both hyperhomocysteinemic and control subjects, the increase was more prominent in controls, resulting in a marked difference in IL-10-induced changes in MMP-9/TIMP-1 ratio between these 2 groups; and (4) comparing PBMCs from controls, cells from hyperhomocysteinemic individuals had impaired IL-10-induced STAT3 phosphorylation.


Our findings suggest an attenuated inhibitory response to IL-10 on MMP-9 activity in hyperhomocysteinemic subjects, potentially promoting atherogenesis and plaque instability, representing a novel explanation for increased risk for atherosclerotic disease in these individuals.

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