Background: In glaucoma, extensive pathological changes occur in the trabecular meshwork (TM) and juxtacanalicular tissue of the chamber angle. Aqueous humor drainage is disturbed due to the accumulation of extracellular matrix (ECM) material in the outflow system. Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) remodel ECM material and, thus, they may have a role in regulating outflow facility and intraocular pressure (IOP). This study examined the expression of MMPs and tissue inhibitors of MMPs (TIMPs) in the chamber angle of normal eyes and in primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) and in exfoliation glaucoma (ExG).
Methods: TM tissues were isolated from healthy donor eyes for corneal transplantation. Specimens of the inner wall of Schlemm's canal and the juxtacanalicular tissue were collected from patients with POAG or ExG during deep sclerectomy operation. Monoclonal antibodies against MMPs (MMP-1, -2, -3, and -9) and antibodies against TIMPs (TIMP-1, -2, and -3) were used for immunohistochemical staining.
Results: Immunoreactivity for MMP-2, TIMP-2, or TIMP-3 was observed in human normal TM and in the inner wall of Schlemm's canal. In general, immunoreactions for all of the tested MMPs were more intense in POAG samples than in ExG samples or in the control group. The only exception was the MMP-2 level, which was the highest in the control group. The staining intensity of MMP-1 or MMP-3 was significantly higher in POAG when compared to ExG. TIMP-1 was significantly increased in POAG compared with ExG and there were no marked differences in the levels of TIMP-2 or TIMP-3 between POAG and ExG. The ratios of MMP-1/TIMP-1 and MMP(1+2+3+9) and TIMP(1+2+3) were significantly higher in samples from POAG compared to those of ExG.
Conclusions: Our results reveal an expression imbalance between MMPs and their endogenous tissue inhibitors in tissue samples from patients with POAG and ExG. Differences in immunohistochemical reactions reflect discrete local pathogenic mechanisms involved in POAG and ExG. With respect to the proposed role of MMPs in the remodeling of ECM material, this may point to a weaker reactivity to the accumulation of ECM material in TM in ExG than POAG eyes.