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Circulation. 2005 Apr 12;111(14):1800-5. Epub 2005 Apr 4.

Near-infrared fluorescent imaging of matrix metalloproteinase activity after myocardial infarction.

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  • 1Cardiovascular Research Center and Cardiology Division, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Charlestown, Mass 02129, USA.



We used a molecular probe activated by protease cleavage to image expression of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) in the heart after myocardial infarction.


We synthesized and characterized a near-infrared fluorescent (NIRF) probe that is activated by proteolytic cleavage by MMP2 and MMP9. The NIRF probe was injected into mice at various time points up to 4 weeks after myocardial infarction induced by ligation of the left anterior descending coronary artery. NIRF imaging of MMP activity increased in the infarct region, with maximal expression at 1 to 2 weeks, persisting to 4 weeks. Zymography and real-time polymerase chain reaction analysis showed that MMP9 expression is increased at 2 to 4 days, and MMP2 expression is increased at 1 to 2 weeks. Dual-label confocal microscopy showed colocalization of NIRF imaging with neutrophils on day 2, and flow cytometric analysis confirmed that NIRF signal is associated with leukocytes in the infarct zone.


This study demonstrates that the activity of MMPs in the myocardium may be imaged by use of specific activity-dependent molecular probes.

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