Objective: Matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) degrades type IV collagen, the major constituent of lung basement membrane. We studied the effects of chorioamnionitis and antenatal corticosteroids on bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid levels of MMP-9, and its inhibitor, TIMP-1 in preterm infants.
Study design: A prospective study was performed on serial BAL samples from 79 ventilated preterm infants at less than 33 weeks' gestation, 18 of whom were from pregnancies complicated by chorioamnionitis. MMP-9 levels were measured by gelatin zymography and TIMP-1 by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, and the median value for each infant was calculated. The presence and severity of chorioamnionitis were defined histologically.
Results: BAL fluid MMP-9 levels were higher in preterm infants in the chorioamnionitis group (86 [29-518] vs 13 [3-43] ng/mL, P =.001), and levels increased stepwise with the increasing severity of chorioamnionitis. Antenatal corticosteroids had no effect on median MMP-9 levels. Infants in the chorioamnionitis group were more likely to have chronic lung disease (CLD) develop (55% vs 28%, P <.05). TIMP-1 levels were no different between groups.
Conclusion: Chorioamnionitis is associated with increased lung type IV collagenase levels in the ventilated preterm infant. Antenatal lung inflammation with up-regulation of MMP-9 may be important in the pathogenesis of CLD.