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J Virol. 2009 Jan;83(2):830-5. doi: 10.1128/JVI.01363-08. Epub 2008 Oct 22.

Infection with human cytomegalovirus alters the MMP-9/TIMP-1 balance in human macrophages.

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Department of Medicine, Center forMolecular Medicine, Experimental Cardiovascular Research Unit, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.


Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) has been suggested to contribute to the development of vascular diseases. Since matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) have been implicated in atherosclerosis and plaque rupture, we investigated the effect of HCMV infection on MMP expression in human macrophages. We used quantitative real-time PCR, Western blotting, and gelatin zymography to study the expression and activity of MMP-2, -3, -7, -9, -12, -13, and -14 and of tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase 1 (TIMP-1), -2, -3, and -4. HCMV infection reduced MMP-9 mRNA, protein, and activity levels but increased TIMP-1 mRNA and protein levels. Furthermore, a decrease in MMP-12, MMP-14, TIMP-2, and TIMP-3 mRNA levels could be detected. The MMP-9 and TIMP-1 mRNA alterations required viral replication. MMP-9 mRNA expression was affected by an immediate-early or early viral gene product, whereas TIMP-1 mRNA expression was affected by late viral gene products. We conclude that HCMV infection specifically alters the MMP-9/TIMP-1 balance in human macrophages, which in turn reduces MMP-9 activity in infected cells. Since MMP-9 prevents atherosclerotic plaque development in mice, these results suggest that HCMV may contribute to atherogenesis through specific effects on MMP-9 activity.

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