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J Neurosci. 2012 Jul 18;32(29):9805-16.

Matrix metalloprotease 8-dependent extracellular matrix cleavage at the blood-CSF barrier contributes to lethality during systemic inflammatory diseases.

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Department for Molecular Biomedical Research, Flanders Institute for Biotechnology, B-9052 Ghent, Belgium.


Systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) is a highly mortal inflammatory disease, associated with systemic inflammation and organ dysfunction. SIRS can have a sterile cause or can be initiated by an infection, called sepsis. The prevalence is high, and available treatments are ineffective and mainly supportive. Consequently, there is an urgent need for new treatments. The brain is one of the first organs affected during SIRS, and sepsis and the consequent neurological complications, such as encephalopathy, are correlated with decreased survival. The choroid plexus (CP) that forms the blood-CSF barrier (BCSFB) is thought to act as a brain "immune sensor" involved in the communication between the peripheral immune system and the CNS. Nevertheless, the involvement of BCSFB integrity in systemic inflammatory diseases is seldom investigated. We report that matrix metalloprotease-8 (MMP8) depletion or inhibition protects mice from death and hypothermia in sepsis and renal ischemia/reperfusion. This effect could be attributed to MMP8-dependent leakage of the BCSFB, caused by collagen cleavage in the extracellular matrix of CP cells, which leads to a dramatic change in cellular morphology. Disruption of the BCSFB results in increased CSF cytokine levels, brain inflammation, and downregulation of the brain glucocorticoid receptor. This receptor is necessary for dampening the inflammatory response. Consequently, MMP8(+/+) mice, in contrast to MMP8(-/-) mice, show no anti-inflammatory response and this results in high mortality. In conclusion, we identify MMP8 as an essential mediator in SIRS and, hence, a potential drug target. We also propose that the mechanism of action of MMP8 involves disruption of the BCSFB integrity.

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