Background: Asthma is characterized by airway inflammation and remodeling in which matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases (TIMP) play an important role. Allergen exposure activates the inflammatory/repair process in sensitized subjects. Induced-sputum analysis is a non-invasive method that allows the assessment of changes in inflammatory and remodeling mediators implicated in asthma.
Objectives: To evaluate the changes in MMP-9 and its principal inhibitor (TIMP-1) in sputum and plasma of mild allergic asthmatic subjects after whole-lung allergen challenge.
Methods: Induced sputum and blood samples were obtained at baseline, and 6 and 24 h after challenge. MMP-9 and TIMP-1 levels in sputum and plasma were measured by ELISA.
Results: Allergen challenge increased the percentage of sputum eosinophils and MMP-9 levels 6 and 24 h after the challenge compared to baseline levels, but TIMP-1 levels did not vary significantly. A significant correlation was observed between MMP-9 levels at 6 h and the maximum percent fall in FEV(1) during the late response. Throughout the study, MMP-9 levels correlated significantly with the number of neutrophils in sputum.
Conclusions: This study shows that analysis of induced sputum is a useful tool to study the variations in MMP-9 and TIMP-1 levels following allergen challenge, therefore allowing to evaluate their role in allergen-induced airway damage and repair.
Copyright 2004 S. Karger AG, Basel