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J Biol Chem. 2012 Dec 28;287(53):44083-96. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M112.425652. Epub 2012 Nov 9.

Loss of Timp3 gene leads to abdominal aortic aneurysm formation in response to angiotensin II.

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Department of Physiology, Division of Cardiology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2S2, Canada.


Aortic aneurysm is dilation of the aorta primarily due to degradation of the aortic wall extracellular matrix (ECM). Tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases (TIMPs) inhibit matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), the proteases that degrade the ECM. Timp3 is the only ECM-bound Timp, and its levels are altered in the aorta from patients with abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). We investigated the causal role of Timp3 in AAA formation. Infusion of angiotensin II (Ang II) using micro-osmotic (Alzet) pumps in Timp3(-/-) male mice, but not in wild type control mice, led to adverse remodeling of the abdominal aorta, reduced collagen and elastin proteins but not mRNA, and elevated proteolytic activities, suggesting excess protein degradation within 2 weeks that led to formation of AAA by 4 weeks. Intriguingly, despite early up-regulation of MMP2 in Timp3(-/-)Ang II aortas, additional deletion of Mmp2 in these mice (Timp3(-/-)/Mmp2(-/-)) resulted in exacerbated AAA, compromised survival due to aortic rupture, and inflammation in the abdominal aorta. Reconstitution of WT bone marrow in Timp3(-/-)/Mmp2(-/-) mice reduced inflammation and prevented AAA in these animals following Ang II infusion. Treatment with a broad spectrum MMP inhibitor (PD166793) prevented the Ang II-induced AAA in Timp3(-/-) and Timp3(-/-)/Mmp2(-/-) mice. Our study demonstrates that the regulatory function of TIMP3 is critical in preventing adverse vascular remodeling and AAA. Hence, replenishing TIMP3, a physiological inhibitor of a number of metalloproteinases, could serve as a therapeutic approach in limiting AAA development or expansion.

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