Elevation of MMP-9 Levels Promotes Epileptogenesis After Traumatic Brain Injury

Mol Neurobiol. 2018 Dec;55(12):9294-9306. doi: 10.1007/s12035-018-1061-5. Epub 2018 Apr 17.


Posttraumatic epilepsy (PTE) is a recurrent seizure disorder that often develops secondary to traumatic brain injury (TBI) that is caused by an external mechanical force. Recent evidence shows that the brain extracellular matrix plays a major role in the remodeling of neuronal connections after injury. One of the proteases that is presumably responsible for this process is matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9). The levels of MMP-9 are elevated in rodent brain tissue and human blood samples after TBI. However, no studies have described the influence of MMP-9 on the development of PTE. The present study used controlled cortical impact (CCI) as a mouse model of TBI. We examined the detailed kinetics of MMP-9 levels for 1 month after TBI and observed two peaks after injury (30 min and 6 h after injury). We tested the hypothesis that high levels of MMP-9 predispose individuals to the development of PTE, and MMP-9 inhibition would protect against PTE. We used transgenic animals with either MMP-9 knockout or MMP-9 overexpression. MMP-9 overexpression increased the number of mice that exhibited TBI-induced spontaneous seizures, and MMP-9 knockout decreased the appearance of seizures. We also evaluated changes in responsiveness to a single dose of the chemoconvulsant pentylenetetrazol. MMP-9-overexpressing mice exhibited a significantly shorter latency between pentylenetetrazol administration and the first epileptiform spike. MMP-9 knockout mice exhibited the opposite response profile. Finally, we found that the occurrence of PTE was correlated with the size of the lesion after injury. Overall, our data emphasize the contribution of MMP-9 to TBI-induced structural and physiological alterations in brain circuitry that may lead to the development of PTE.

Keywords: Controlled cortical impact; Epileptogenesis; Extracellular matrix (ECM); Matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9); Posttraumatic epilepsy; Traumatic brain injury.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic / complications*
  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic / enzymology*
  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic / physiopathology
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology
  • Epilepsy, Post-Traumatic / enzymology*
  • Epilepsy, Post-Traumatic / etiology*
  • Epilepsy, Post-Traumatic / physiopathology
  • Genotype
  • Male
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 9 / metabolism*
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Motor Activity
  • Pentylenetetrazole / pharmacology
  • Seizures / enzymology
  • Seizures / pathology
  • Seizures / physiopathology
  • Somatosensory Cortex / pathology
  • Somatosensory Cortex / physiopathology
  • Time Factors
  • Up-Regulation


  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 9
  • Pentylenetetrazole