Purpose: Blood-brain barrier (BBB) disruption is one of the major consequences of radiation-induced normal tissue injury in the central nervous system. We examined the effects of whole-brain irradiation on matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs)/tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases (TIMPs) and extracellular matrix (ECM) degradation in the brain.
Methods and materials: Animals received either whole-brain irradiation (a single dose of 10 Gy γ-rays or a fractionated dose of 40 Gy γ-rays, total) or sham-irradiation and were maintained for 4, 8, and 24 h following irradiation. mRNA expression levels of MMPs and TIMPs in the brain were analyzed by real-time reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The functional activity of MMPs was measured by in situ zymography, and degradation of ECM was visualized by collagen type IV immunofluorescent staining.
Results: A significant increase in mRNA expression levels of MMP-2, MMP-9, and TIMP-1 was observed in irradiated brains compared to that in sham-irradiated controls. In situ zymography revealed a strong gelatinolytic activity in the brain 24 h postirradiation, and the enhanced gelatinolytic activity mediated by irradiation was significantly attenuated in the presence of anti-MMP-2 antibody. A significant reduction in collagen type IV immunoreactivity was also detected in the brain at 24 h after irradiation. In contrast, the levels of collagen type IV were not significantly changed at 4 and 8 h after irradiation compared with the sham-irradiated controls.
Conclusions: The present study demonstrates for the first time that radiation induces an imbalance between MMP-2 and TIMP-2 levels and suggests that degradation of collagen type IV, a major ECM component of BBB basement membrane, may have a role in the pathogenesis of brain injury.
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