Molecular modeling of non-covalent binding of homochiral (3S,3'S)-astaxanthin to matrix metalloproteinase-13 (MMP-13)

Bioorg Med Chem. 2006 Aug 15;14(16):5451-8. doi: 10.1016/j.bmc.2006.04.047. Epub 2006 May 23.


Inhibitors for matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are under investigation for the treatment of various important chronic illnesses, including cancer, arthritis, and cardiovascular disease (CVD). In particular, MMP-13 is currently being probed as a potential key target in CVD and malignant disease due to its documented effects on extracellular matrix (ECM) remodeling, important in the pathophysiology of these diseases. Within the family of related mammalian MMP enzymes, MMP-13 possesses a large hydrophobic binding pocket relative to that of other MMPs. Homochiral astaxanthin (3S,3'S-AST; 3S,3'S-dihydroxy-beta,beta-carotene-4,4'-dione), an important antioxidant and anti-inflammatory xanthophyll carotenoid, is an active metabolite of several novel soft drugs in clinical development; it is also extensively used and tested as a human nutraceutical. In the current study, the prediction of the geometry and energetics of its binding to human MMP-13 was conducted with molecular modeling. The method used was found to predict the energy of binding of known ligands of MMP-13 with great precision. Blind docking using the whole protein target was then used in order to identify the possible binding site(s) of AST. AST was predicted to bind at several sites in close proximity to the active center. Subsequent analyses focused on the binding site at the atomic (i.e., amino acid sequence) level suggested that AST can bind to MMP-13 with high affinity and favorable energetics. Therefore, the modeling study predicts potential direct enzyme-inhibitory activity of AST against MMP-13, a behavior that may be exploited in mammalian systems in which pathological upregulation of MMP activity is paramount.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Binding Sites
  • Collagenases / chemistry
  • Collagenases / drug effects*
  • Collagenases / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 13
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Protease Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Xanthophylls / chemistry
  • Xanthophylls / pharmacology


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Protease Inhibitors
  • Xanthophylls
  • astaxanthine
  • Collagenases
  • MMP13 protein, human
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 13