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Arthritis Rheum. 2002 Nov;46(11):3034-40.

Ciprofloxacin enhances the stimulation of matrix metalloproteinase 3 expression by interleukin-1beta in human tendon-derived cells. A potential mechanism of fluoroquinolone-induced tendinopathy.

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Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, UK. Rheumatology Research Unit, Box 194, Unit E6, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 2QQ, UK.



To determine whether the fluoroquinolone antibiotic ciprofloxacin, which can cause tendon pain and rupture in a proportion of treated patients, affects the expression of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) in human tendon-derived cells in culture.


Cell cultures were derived from 6 separate tendon explants, and were incubated in 6-well culture plates for 2 periods of 48 hours each, with ciprofloxacin (or DMSO in controls) and interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta), alone and in combination. Samples of supernatant medium from the second 48-hour incubation were assayed for MMPs 1, 2, and 3 by Western blotting. RNA was extracted from the cells and assayed for MMP messenger RNA (mRNA) by semiquantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction, with normalization for GAPDH mRNA.


Unstimulated tendon cells expressed low or undetectable levels of MMP-1 and MMP-3, and substantial levels of MMP-2. IL-1beta induced a substantial output of both MMP-1 and MMP-3 into cell supernatants, reflecting increases (typically 100-fold) in MMP mRNA, but had only minor effects on MMP-2 expression. Ciprofloxacin had no detectable effect on MMP output in unstimulated cells. Preincubation with ciprofloxacin potentiated IL-1beta-stimulated MMP-3 output, reflecting a similar effect on MMP-3 mRNA expression. Ciprofloxacin also potentiated IL-1beta-stimulated MMP-1 mRNA expression, but did not potentiate the output of MMP-1, and had no significant effects on MMP-2 mRNA expression or output.


Ciprofloxacin can selectively enhance MMP expression in tendon-derived cells. Such effects might compromise tendon microstructure and integrity.

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