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J Neuropathol Exp Neurol. 2004 Apr;63(4):338-49.

Activation of matrix metalloproteinase-3 and agrin cleavage in cerebral ischemia/reperfusion.

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Departament de Farmacologia i Toxicologia, IIBB-CSIC, Institut d'Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer, Barcelona, Spain.


Matrix metalloproteinase-3 (MMP-3) degrades components of the extracellular matrix and may participate in the pathogenesis of stroke. Here we examine the expression, activation, and cellular location of MMP-3 and the cleavage of agrin, an MMP-3 substrate, following transient middle cerebral artery occlusion in the rat. MMP-3 was activated by ischemia/reperfusion, which was revealed by the appearance of a cleaved form and increased degradation of a substrate. MMP-3 was observed in ischemic neurons, oligodendrocytes, microvasculature, and reactive microglia/macrophages. In cell cultures, MMP-3 expression was observed in neurons and, to a lesser extent, in mature oligodendrocytes, but not in oligodendrocyte progenitors, astrocytes, or microglia. Casein zymography revealed MMP-3 in cultured neurons. Agrin was expressed in cultured neurons and cultured astrocytes. In brain tissue, agrin was detected in neurons, and following ischemia it was also detected in reactive astrocytes. Addition of MMP-3 to protein extracts from control brain caused neuronal agrin degradation. Following ischemia/reperfusion, agrin disappeared from the tissue membrane fraction and a cleaved agrin fragment was found in tissue protein extracts. The present results show MMP-3 activation and neuronal transmembrane agrin cleavage after ischemia/reperfusion. In addition, the finding that MMP-3 cleaves brain agrin strongly suggests that ischemia-induced MMP-3 activation causes agrin cleavage.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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