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Arthritis Res Ther. 2005;7(1):R71-9. Epub 2004 Nov 10.

Elevated matrix metalloproteinase-9 in patients with systemic sclerosis.

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Division of Rheumatology, Department of Internal Medicine, Catholic Research Institutes of Medical Science, School of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, Republic of Korea.


Matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) has been implicated in the pathogenesis of cancer, autoimmune disease, and various pathologic conditions characterized by excessive fibrosis. In this study, we investigated the expression of MMP-9 and its clinical significance in systemic sclerosis (SSc). The patients (n = 42) with SSc had higher concentrations of MMP-9 and of tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-1 (TIMP-1) and a higher ratio of MMP-9 to TIMP-1 in sera than healthy controls (n = 32). Serum MMP-9 concentrations were significantly higher in the diffuse type (n = 23) than the limited type of SSc (n = 19). Serum concentrations of MMP-9 correlated well with the degree of skin involvement, as determined by the Rodnan score and with serum concentrations of transforming growth factor beta. Moreover, dermal fibroblasts from patients with SSc produced more MMP-9 than those from healthy controls when they were stimulated with IL-1beta, tumor necrosis factor alpha, or transforming growth factor beta. Such an increase in MMP-9 production was partially blocked by treatment with cyclosporin A. In summary, the serum MMP-9 concentrations were elevated in SSc patients and correlated well with skin scores. The increased MMP-9 concentrations may be attributable to overproduction by dermal fibroblasts in SSc. These findings suggest that the enhanced production of MMP-9 may contribute to fibrogenic remodeling during the progression of skin sclerosis in SSc.

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