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J Immunol. 2001 Dec 15;167(12):7017-26.

Regulation of hepatic fibrosis and extracellular matrix genes by the th response: new insight into the role of tissue inhibitors of matrix metalloproteinases.

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Schistosomiasis Immunology and Pathology Unit, Immunobiology Section, Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


Hepatic fibrosis is the hallmark of Schistosoma mansoni infection and often results in portal hypertension and bleeding from esophageal varices. The fibrotic process is highly dependent on type 2 cytokines, yet their role in the regulation of extracellular matrix remodeling genes remains largely unknown. Here, we examined the expression of matrix metalloproteases (MMP) -2, -3, -9, -12, and -13 and their inhibitors, tissue inhibitor of metalloproteases (TIMP) -1, -2, and -3, in the livers of infected mice and correlated their expression profiles with fibrosis and type 2 cytokine production. Expression of MMP-2, -3, -9, -12, and -13 and of TIMP-1 and -2 mRNA rapidly increased at the onset of egg laying in infected mice, while TIMP-3 was unchanged. Because TIMP are presumed to be important regulators of the extracellular matrix, and their expression correlated with the development of fibrosis, we studied their role in fibrogenesis by infecting TIMP-1- and TIMP-2-deficient mice. Strikingly, our data revealed no role for TIMP-1 or -2 in the fibrotic pathology induced by S. mansoni eggs. Because of these findings, we infected IL-10/IFN-gamma-deficient mice that develop an exaggerated fibrotic response to determine whether changes in type 2 cytokine dominance influence the pattern of MMP and TIMP expression. Fibrosis and type 2 cytokine production correlated with increased MMP-2/MMP-9 vs TIMP-1/TIMP-2 expression. These data, in addition to our knockout studies, demonstrate that TIMP-1/TIMP-2 play no essential role in fibrogenesis in schistosomiasis. Indeed, our findings suggest that inhibiting profibrotic cytokines or specific MMP may be a more effective strategy to ameliorate fibrotic pathology.

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