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Brain Behav Immun. 2007 Jul;21(5):561-8. Epub 2006 Dec 26.

Cytokine regulation of MMP-9 in peripheral glia: implications for pathological processes and pain in injured nerve.

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  • 1San Diego VA Healthcare System, USA.


Matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) is an extracellular protease that is induced in Schwann cells hours after peripheral nerve injury and controls axonal degeneration and macrophage recruitment to the lesion. Here, we report a robust (90-fold) increase in MMP-9 mRNA within 24 h after rat sciatic nerve crush (1 to 60 days time-course). Using direct injection into a normal sciatic nerve, we identify the proinflammatory cytokines TNF-alpha and IL-1beta as potent regulators of MMP-9 expression (Taqman qPCR, zymography). Myelinating Schwann cells produced MMP-9 in response to cytokine injection and crush nerve injury. MMP-9 gene deletion reduced unstimulated neuropathic nociceptive behavior after one week post-crush and preserved myelin thickness by protecting myelin basic protein (MBP) from degradation, tested by Western blot and immunofluorescence. These data suggest that MMP-9 expression in peripheral nerve is controlled by key proinflammatory cytokine pathways, and that its removal protects nerve fibers from demyelination and reduces neuropathic pain after injury.

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