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Brain Res Brain Res Rev. 2001 Oct;36(2-3):249-57.

Matrix metalloproteinases: multifunctional effectors of inflammation in multiple sclerosis and bacterial meningitis.

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Department of Neurology, University Hospitals, Petersgraben 4, CH-4031, Basel, Switzerland.


Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are a family of Zn2+-dependent endopeptidases targeting extracellular matrix (ECM) compounds as well as a number of other proteins. Their proteolytic activity acts as an effector mechanism of tissue remodeling in physiologic and pathologic conditions, and as modulator of inflammation. In the context of neuro-inflammatory diseases, MMPs have been implicated in processes such as (a) blood-brain barrier (BBB) and blood-nerve barrier opening, (b) invasion of neural tissue by blood-derived immune cells, (c) shedding of cytokines and cytokine receptors, and (d) direct cellular damage in diseases of the peripheral and central nervous system. This review focuses on the role of MMPs in multiple sclerosis (MS) and bacterial meningitis (BM), two neuro-inflammatory diseases where current therapeutic approaches are insufficient to prevent severe disability in the majority of patients. Inhibition of enzymatic activity may prevent MMP-mediated neuronal damage due to an overactive or deviated immune response in both diseases. Downregulation of MMP release may be the molecular basis for the beneficial effect of IFN-beta and steroids in MS. Instead, synthetic MMP inhibitors offer the possibility to shut off enzymatic activity of already activated MMPs. In animal models of MS and BM, they efficiently attenuated clinical disease symptoms and prevented brain damage due to excessive metalloproteinase activity. However, the required target profile for the therapeutic use of this novel group of compounds in human disease is not yet sufficiently defined and may be different depending on the type and stage of disease. Currently available MMP inhibitors show little target-specificity within the MMP family and may lead to side-effects due to interference with physiological functions of MMPs. Results from human MS and BM indicate that only a restricted number of MMPs specific for each disease is up-regulated. MMP inhibitors with selective target profiles offer the possibility of a more efficient therapy of MS and BM and may enter clinical trials in the near future.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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