Role of matrix metalloproteinase-3 (MMP-3) and magnetic resonance imaging of sacroiliitis in assessing disease activity in ankylosing spondylitis

Rheumatol Int. 2012 Jun;32(6):1711-20. doi: 10.1007/s00296-011-1852-8. Epub 2011 Mar 24.


The objective of this study is to evaluate the role of MMP-3 and MRI in assessing disease activity in sacroiliac joints of AS patients in comparison to the conventional measures Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Disease Activity Index (BASDAI), erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and C-reactive protein (CRP). Serum MMP-3 was measured in 30 patients who fulfilled the modified New York criteria for AS and in ten healthy volunteers. AS patients were categorized into those having high or low MMP-3 according to a cut-off value = 7.1 ng/ml. MRI of the sacroiliac joints (SIJs) was performed on all patients. SIJs were evaluated for enhancement and subchondral bone marrow edema. Results of MMP-3 and findings on MRI were correlated with multiple clinical parameters including BASDAI, ESR and CRP. Serum MMP-3 was significantly elevated in AS patients with active disease. Elevated MMP-3 levels were significantly associated with high BASDAI (P = 0.046), but not with ESR or CRP. MRI showed bone marrow edema and enhancement of SIJs in 19/30 patients with one patient showing enhancement only. These MRI findings were not correlated with MMP-3, BASDAI, CRP or ESR. In conclusion, serum MMP-3 is an objective measure reflecting clinical disease activity in AS. Bone marrow edema and enhancement detected by MRI of SIJs is another objective measure of disease activity, but are not correlated with MMP-3 or the conventional parameters as BASDAI, ESR, or CRP. Although both MMP-3 and MRI can reflect disease activity in AS they seem to be unrelated, perhaps each is reflecting a different aspect of disease activity. MMP-3 and MRI should be considered together with BASDAI in assessing disease activity and in guiding the available recommendations for initiation of biologics in AS.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Blood Sedimentation
  • Bone Marrow Diseases / diagnosis
  • Bone Marrow Diseases / enzymology
  • Bone Marrow Diseases / etiology
  • C-Reactive Protein / analysis
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Edema / diagnosis
  • Edema / enzymology
  • Edema / etiology
  • Egypt
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 3 / blood*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Sacroiliac Joint / pathology*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Spondylitis, Ankylosing / blood
  • Spondylitis, Ankylosing / complications
  • Spondylitis, Ankylosing / diagnosis*
  • Spondylitis, Ankylosing / enzymology
  • Spondylitis, Ankylosing / pathology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Up-Regulation
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • MMP3 protein, human
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 3