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EMBO Mol Med. 2011 Jul;3(7):370-84. doi: 10.1002/emmm.201100145. Epub 2011 May 18.

A matrix metalloprotease-PAR1 system regulates vascular integrity, systemic inflammation and death in sepsis.

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  • 1Hemostasis and Thrombosis Laboratory, Departments of Medicine and Biochemistry, Molecular Oncology Research Institute, Tufts Medical Center, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA.


Sepsis is a deadly disease characterized by the inability to regulate the inflammatory-coagulation response in which the endothelium plays a key role. The cause of this perturbation remains poorly understood and has hampered the development of effective therapeutics. Matrix metalloproteases (MMPs) are involved in the host response to pathogens, but can also cause uncontrolled tissue damage and contribute to mortality. We found that human sepsis patients had markedly elevated plasma proMMP-1 and active MMP-1 levels, which correlated with death at 7 and 28 days after diagnosis. Likewise, septic mice had increased plasma levels of the MMP-1 ortholog, MMP-1a. We identified mouse MMP-1a as an agonist of protease-activated receptor-1 (PAR1) on endothelial cells. MMP-1a was released from endothelial cells in septic mice. Blockade of MMP-1 activity suppressed endothelial barrier disruption, disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), lung vascular permeability as well as the cytokine storm and improved survival, which was lost in PAR1-deficient mice. Infusion of human MMP-1 increased lung vascular permeability in normal wild-type mice but not in PAR1-deficient mice. These findings implicate MMP-1 as an important activator of PAR1 in sepsis and suggest that therapeutics that target MMP1-PAR1 may prove beneficial in the treatment of sepsis.

Copyright © 2011 EMBO Molecular Medicine.

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