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Am J Physiol. 1997 Jun;272(6 Pt 2):R1960-5.

Dysregulated proteolytic balance as the basis of excess extracellular matrix in fibrotic disease.

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  • 1Department of Urology, Children's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


To investigate mechanisms of tissue fibrosis, we developed a model of ovine fetal bladder fibrosis due to surgically induced obstruction. Tissues were analyzed for matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and their inhibitors, the tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases (TIMPs). Active MMP-2 was not detected in obstructed bladders, while latent and active forms were detected in normal bladders. MMP-1 (interstitial collagenase) activity was lower in obstructed bladders. MMP inhibitory activity was increased with obstruction, as were levels of TIMP mRNA and protein. These results indicate that the proteins responsible for collagen degradation are present in the developing bladder, and a shift in the proteolytic balance favoring inhibition of degradation occurs in a model of obstruction-induced fibrosis. This altered proteolytic balance favors accumulation of extracellular matrix and decreased tissue compliance characteristic of this and perhaps other fibrotic conditions.

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