Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are matrix-degrading enzymes involved in diverse homeostatic and pathological processes. Several MMPs are expressed within the CNS and serve important normal and pathological functions during development and adulthood. An early and major pathological effect of MMP activity after cerebral ischemia is opening of the blood-brain barrier (BBB). More recent work demonstrates emerging roles for MMPs and their natural inhibitors, tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases (TIMPs), in the regulation of neuronal cell death. In addition, MMPs and TIMPs are likely to play important roles during the repair phases of cerebral ischemia, particularly during angiogenesis and reestablishment of cerebral blood flow. This review attempts to elucidate how MMPs and TIMPs may provide detrimental or beneficial actions during the injury and repair processes after cerebral ischemia. These processes will have important implications for therapies using MMP inhibitors in stroke.
Copyright 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.