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J Immunol. 2003 Nov 15;171(10):5579-86.

Unopposed matrix metalloproteinase-9 expression in human tuberculous granuloma and the role of TNF-alpha-dependent monocyte networks.

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  • 1Department of Infectious Diseases and Wellcome Trust Centre for Clinical Tropical Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College, Hammersmith Campus, London, United Kingdom.


Tuberculosis is characterized by granuloma formation and caseous necrosis, but the factors causing tissue destruction are poorly understood. Matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-9 (92-kDa gelatinase) secretion from monocytes is stimulated by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tb) and associated with local tissue injury in tuberculosis patients. We demonstrate strong immunohistochemical MMP-9 staining in monocytic cells at the center of granuloma and adjacent to caseous necrosis in M. tb-infected patient lymph nodes. Minimal tissue inhibitor of MMPs-1 staining indicated that MMP-9 activity is unopposed. Because granulomas characteristically contain few mycobacteria, we investigated whether monocyte-monocyte cytokine networks amplify MMP-9 secretion. Conditioned medium from M. tb-infected primary human monocytes or THP-1 cells (CoMTB) stimulated MMP-9 gene expression and a >10-fold increase in MMP-9 secretion by monocytes at 3-4 days (p < 0.009, vs controls). Although CoMTB stimulated dose-dependent MMP-9 secretion, MMP-1 (52-kDa collagenase) was not induced. Anti-TNF-alpha Ab but not IL-1R antagonist pretreatment decreased CoMTB-induced MMP-9 secretion by 50% (p = 0.0001). Anti-TNF-alpha Ab also inhibited MMP-9 secretion from monocytic cells by 50%, 24 h after direct M. tb infection (p = 0.0002). Conversely, TNF-alpha directly stimulated dose-dependent MMP-9 secretion. Pertussis toxin inhibited CoMTB-induced MMP-9 secretion and enhanced the inhibitory effect of anti-TNF-alpha Ab (p = 0.05). Although chemokines bind to G protein-linked receptors, CXCL8, CXCL10, CCL2, and CCL5 did not stimulate monocyte MMP-9 secretion. However, the response to cholera toxin confirmed that G protein signaling pathways were intact. In summary, MMP-9 within tuberculous granuloma is associated with tissue destruction, and TNF-alpha, critical for antimycobacterial granuloma formation, is a key autocrine and paracrine regulator of MMP-9 secretion.

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