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Nitric Oxide. 2011 Mar 15;24(2):66-76. doi: 10.1016/j.niox.2010.12.002. Epub 2010 Dec 13.

Nitroglycerin alters matrix remodeling proteins in THP-1 human macrophages and plasma metalloproteinase activity in rats.

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Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University at Buffalo, State University of New York, Buffalo, NY 14260, USA.


Several studies suggested that long-term nitrate therapy may produce negative outcomes in patient mortality and morbidity. A possible mechanism may involve nitrate-mediated activation of various extracellular matrix (ECM) proteases, particularly matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9), and adhesion molecules in human macrophages, leading to the destabilization of atherosclerotic plaques. We examined the gene and protein regulating effects on THP-1 human macrophages by repeated exposure to therapeutically relevant concentrations of nitroglycerin (NTG) and possible involvement of nuclear factor (NF)-κB signaling mechanism in mediating some of these observed effects. THP-1 human macrophages repeatedly exposed to NTG (at 10 nM, added on days 1, 4 and 7) exhibited extensive alterations in the expression of multiple genes encoding ECM proteases and adhesion molecules. These effects were dissimilar to those produced by a direct nitric oxide donor, diethylenetriamine NONOate. NTG exposure significantly up-regulated NF-κB DNA nuclear binding activity and MMP-9 protein expression, and reduced tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-1 (TIMP-1) expression; these effects were abrogated in the presence of the NF-κB inhibitor parthenolide (a chemical inhibitor derived from the feverfew plant). Further, we examined whether our in vitro findings (an elevated MMP-9/TIMP-1 ratio and gelatinase activity) can be translated to in vivo effects, in a rat model. Sprague-Dawley rats exposed continuously to NTG subcutaneously for 8 days via mini-osmotic pumps showed significant induction of plasma MMP-9 dimer concentrations and the expression of a complex of MMP-9 with lipocalin-2 or neutrophil gelatinase associated lipocalin (NGAL). Plasma gelatinase activity was significantly increased by NTG over the entire study period, attaining peak elevation at day 6. Plasma TIMP-1 protein was down-regulated significantly by day 2 and days 4-7 in the NTG-treated rats. Pharmacokinetic monitoring of NTG and its dinitrate metabolites indicated that concentrations were well within therapeutic levels observed in humans. Our studies indicate that clinically relevant concentrations of NTG not only altered ECM matrix by changing the expression of multiple genes that govern cellular integrity, affecting cellular MMP-9/TIMP-1 balance in THP-1 human macrophages possibly via NF-κB activation, but also led to systemic changes in MMP-9/TIMP-1 expression and gelatinase activity in rats. These effects may contribute to extracellular matrix degradation and possible atherosclerotic plaque destabilization.

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