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Exp Eye Res. 2003 Aug;77(2):227-37.

Matrix metalloproteinases (MMP-2 and 9) and tissue inhibitors of matrix metalloproteinases (TIMP-1 and 2) during the course of experimental necrotizing herpetic keratitis.

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Department of Ophthalmology, Ophtha-Lab., St Franziskus Hospital, M√ľnster, Germany.


To determine the distribution and activities of metalloproteinases (MMPs) and tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases (TIMPs) during the course of experimental herpes simplex virus (HSV) type-1 keratitis, BALB/c mice were corneally infected with 10(5) plaque-forming units (PFU) of HSV-1 (KOS strain) and then observed for the clinical signs of keratitis. Corneas were harvested at days 0, 2, 7 and 14 post-infection (p.i.). MMP-2, MMP-9, MMP-8, TIMP-1 and TIMP-2 were detected by immunohistochemistry and the Western blot technique. The enzymatic activities were analyzed by zymography. Epithelial HSV keratitis was present at day 2 after corneal infection and healed by day 5 p.i. While the expression and activity of MMP-2, MMP-8 and MMP-9 increased in the corneas at day 2 p.i., it was reduced at day 7 p.i. TIMP-1 and -2 were expressed in the corneas before and seven days after infection. Necrotizing stromal keratitis with corneal ulceration and dense polymorphonuclear leukocyte (PMN) infiltration was present at day 14 p.i. This correlated with increased expression of MMP-2, MMP-8 and MMP-9 in the corneas. MMP-8, MMP-9 and MMP-2 staining was particularly intense in the proximity of the ulcers and in areas of PMN infiltration. At day 14 p.i., MMP-2, -8 and -9 activities were upregulated, and TIMP-2 was expressed. These data suggest that MMPs produced by resident corneal cells and PMNs may possibly play a role in early epithelial keratitis and in the ulcerative process in the late phase after corneal HSV-1 infection. The ratio of MMPs to TIMPs may be important for the course of necrotizing HSV keratitis. TIMPs might participate in the repair process.

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