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J Neurosci. 2002 Sep 1;22(17):7526-35.

Matrix metalloproteinases limit functional recovery after spinal cord injury by modulation of early vascular events.

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Department of Neurosurgery and Anatomy, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, California 94143-0520, USA.


Inflammation in general and proteinases generated as a result are likely mediators of early secondary pathogenesis after spinal cord injury. We report that matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) plays an important role in blood-spinal cord barrier dysfunction, inflammation, and locomotor recovery. MMP-9 was present in the meninges and neurons of the uninjured cord. MMP-9 increased rapidly after a moderate contusion spinal cord injury, reaching a maximum at 24 hr, becoming markedly reduced by 72 hr, and not detectable at 7 d after injury. It was seen in glia, macrophages, neutrophils, and vascular elements in the injured spinal cord at 24 hr after injury. The natural tissue inhibitors of MMPs were unchanged over this time course. MMP-9-null mice exhibited significantly less disruption of the blood-spinal cord barrier, attenuation of neutrophil infiltration, and significant locomotor recovery compared with wild-type mice. Similar findings were observed in mice treated with a hydroxamic acid MMP inhibitor from 3 hr to 3 d after injury, compared with the vehicle controls. Moreover, the area of residual white matter at the lesion epicenter was significantly greater in the inhibitor-treated group. This study provides evidence that MMP-9 plays a key role in abnormal vascular permeability and inflammation within the first 3 d after spinal cord injury, and that blockade of MMPs during this critical period attenuates these vascular events and leads to improved locomotor recovery. Our findings suggest that early inhibition of MMPs may be an efficacious strategy for the spinal cord-injured patient.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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