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Circ Res. 1994 Jul;75(1):181-9.

Cytokine-stimulated human vascular smooth muscle cells synthesize a complement of enzymes required for extracellular matrix digestion.

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Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA 02115.


Vascular matrix remodeling occurs during development, growth, and several pathological conditions that affect blood vessels. We investigated the capacity of human smooth muscle cells (SMCs) to express matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), enzymes that selectively digest components of the extracellular matrix (ECM), in the basal state or after stimulation with certain cytokines implicated in vascular homeostasis and pathology. Enzymatic activity associated with various proteins secreted in the culture media was detected by gelatin or casein sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis zymography. Proteins were identified by immunoprecipitation and mRNA by Northern blotting. SMCs constitutively secreted a 72-kD gelatinase and the tissue inhibitors of MMPs (TIMPs) types 1 and 2. SMCs stimulated with interleukin-1 or tumor necrosis factor-alpha synthesized de novo 92-kD gelatinase, interstitial collagenase, and stromelysin. Several lines of evidence suggest that when stimulated by cytokines, SMCs produce activated forms of MMPs. Together, the constitutive and the cytokine-induced enzymes can digest all the major components of the vascular ECM. Moreover, since these mediators augment the production of MMPs without appreciably affecting the synthesis of TIMPs, locally secreted cytokines may tip the regional balance of MMP activity in favor of vascular matrix degradation.

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