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Mol Neurobiol. 2013 Aug;48(1):62-70. doi: 10.1007/s12035-013-8433-7. Epub 2013 Mar 12.

Matrix metalloproteinase-2 and metalloproteinase-9 activities are associated with blood-brain barrier dysfunction in an animal model of severe sepsis.

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Laboratório de Fisiopatologia Experimental and Instituto Nacional de Ciência e Tecnologia Translacional em Medicina, Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ciências da Saúde, Unidade Acadêmica de Ciências da Saúde, Universidade do Extremo Sul Catarinense, 88806-000, Criciúma, SC, Brazil.


There is no description on the mechanisms associated with blood-brain barrier (BBB) disruption during sepsis development. Thus, we here determined changes in permeability of the BBB in an animal model of severe sepsis and the role of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-2 and MMP-9 in the dysfunction of the BBB. Sepsis was induced in Wistar rats by cecal ligation and perforation. BBB permeability was assessed using the Evans blue dye method. The content of MMP-2 and MMP-9 in the cerebral microvessels was determined by western blot. The activity of MMP-2 and MMP-9 was determined using zymography. An inhibitor of MMP-2 and MMP-9 or specific inhibitors of MMP-2 or MMP-9 were administered to define the role of MMPs on BBB permeability, brain inflammatory response, and sepsis-induced cognitive alterations. The increase of BBB permeability is time-related to the increase of MMP-9 and MMP-2 in the microvessels, both in cortex and hippocampus. Using an MMP-2 and MMP-9 inhibitor, or specific MMP-2 or MMP-9 inhibitors, the increase in the permeability of the BBB was reversed. This was associated with lower brain levels of interleukin (IL)-6 and lower oxidative damage. In contrast, only the inhibition of both MMP-9 and MMP-2 was able to improve acute cognitive alterations associated with sepsis. In conclusion, MMP-2 and MMP-9 activation seems to be a major step in BBB dysfunction, but BBB dysfunction seems not to be associated with acute cognitive dysfunction during sepsis development.

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