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Mol Vis. 2009 Nov 14;15:2364-72.

Matrix metalloproteinases in recurrent corneal melting associated with primary Sjörgen's syndrome.

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Laboratory of the Biology and Pathology of the Eye, Institute of Inherited Metabolic Disorders, General Teaching Hospital and Charles University in Prague, 1st Faculty of Medicine, Prague, Czech Republic.



To investigate the contribution of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) to recurrent corneal melting in keratoconjunctivitis sicca associated with primary Sjörgen's syndrome (pSS).


One native melted cornea and ten melted corneal grafts from two patients with severe pSS were used. The presence of MMPs (1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, and 13) was detected using indirect enzyme immunohistochemistry. The active forms of MMP 2 and 9 and MMP 3 and 7 were examined by gelatin and casein zymography, respectively. The concentrations of active MMP 1 were measured using an activity assay. Eleven unaffected corneas served as controls.


The average values of the staining intensity revealed very intense MMP 1, intense MMP 2, 7, and 9 and moderate MMP 3 and 8 positivity, in the corneal epithelium of melted corneas. Intense MMP 1 and 9 staining, moderate MMP 2, 3, and 8 staining, and weak MMP 7 staining were found in the anterior stroma. The posterior stroma revealed intense MMP 1, moderate MMP 3 and 9, and weak MMP 2, 7, and 8 positivity. Immunostaining of the endothelium was moderate for MMP 9 and weak for MMP 1, 2, 3, 7, and 8. MMP 13 was negative in all but four melted specimens, where weak-to-moderate staining was found in the epithelium and stroma. Control corneas revealed moderate MMP 1 and 2 and weak MMP 8 staining in the epithelium, weak MMP 2 staining in the anterior stroma, and weak MMP 1 and 8 staining in the endothelium. Significantly elevated MMP 1 activity and extremely elevated MMP 9 activity were found in most of the tested pathological specimens, compared to healthy controls, where no activity of the two enzymes was present. Markedly elevated MMP 2 activity was found in 2 of 11 specimens, compared to normal tissue. The inactive form of MMP 3 was detected in half of the tested specimens, and inactive MMP 7 in all melted corneas. Active MMP 3 and 7 were found in one melted sample. Neither of these MMPs was found in any of the control specimens.


The increased expression and elevated activity of a wide range of MMPs in melted cornea samples from two patients diagnosed with pSS confirm that these enzymes contribute to the tissue destruction, leading to serious consequences such as corneal perforation and loss of vision.

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