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Vet Immunol Immunopathol. 2006 Oct 15;113(3-4):267-76. Epub 2006 Jul 5.

Matrix metalloproteinase-9 in laminae of black walnut extract treated horses correlates with neutrophil abundance.

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Department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, University of Massachusetts, Paige Laboratory, Amherst, MA 01003, USA.


We sought to determine whether a correlation exists between neutrophil infiltration and tissue matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) content in digital laminae collected during the prodromal and acute phases of laminitis in horses treated with an aqueous black walnut heartwood extract (BWE). Hoof laminar tissue was obtained at the onset of leukopenia and at the onset of clinical signs of lameness from BWE-treated horses and at equivalent times from control horses. Thin sections of laminae were screened for neutrophils by immunohistochemistry with an anti-CD13 monoclonal antibody and extracts of the same tissues were screened for SDS-renaturable and native MMP-9 activities by denaturing and non-denaturing gelatin zymography. Samples were also screened for MMP-2 and MMP-9 gene expression by RT-qPCR. Control laminae were devoid of both MMP-9 and neutrophils, whereas neutrophils and SDS-renaturable MMP-9 activity were detected in laminae from BWE-treated horses and were strongly correlated at the acute stage of the disease at which time laminar MMP-9 gene expression was significantly (15-fold) elevated. In contrast, BWE-treatment did not significantly elevate MMP-2 gene or protein expression in the laminae. Interestingly, MMP-9 that was present in extracts of laminae from BWE-treated horses at both the prodromal and acute stages of the disease was mainly in the zymogen form, suggesting that the accumulation of the MMP did not contribute to pathology during these stages. However, elevated presence of the MMP-9 zymogen in the tissue would predispose it to catastrophic damage should conditions arise that cleave the regulatory propeptide domain.

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