Plasma matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and tissue inhibitors of MMPs and aging and lifelong exercise adaptations in ventricular and arterial stiffness

Exp Gerontol. 2019 Aug:123:36-44. doi: 10.1016/j.exger.2019.05.004. Epub 2019 May 13.


The age-associated increase in cardiac and central arterial stiffness is attenuated with lifelong (>25 years) endurance exercise in a dose-dependent manner. Remodelling of the extracellular matrix of cardiovascular structures may underpin these lifelong exercise adaptations in structural stiffness. The primary aim was to examine whether matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and tissue inhibitors of matrix metalloproteinases (TIMPs) levels are associated with aging and lifelong exercise-related changes in cardiac and central arterial stiffness. Plasma MMPs and TIMPs, left ventricular (LV) (LV stiffness constant) and central arterial stiffness (pulse wave velocity) were examined in healthy adults stratified into five groups based on age and lifelong weekly exercise frequency: (1) young sedentary adults (28-50 years), and older adults (>60 years) who had performed either: (a) sedentary (0-1 sessions/week), (b) casual (2-3 sessions/week), (c) committed (4-5 sessions/week) or (d) athletic (≥6 sessions/week) frequency of exercise. MMP-1 was significantly lower in young compared to older sedentary (p = 0.049). Except for TIMP-2 (p = 0.018 versus committed) and the ratio of MMP-2/TIMP-4 (p = 0.047 versus committed), MMP and TIMP expression was not significantly different in lifelong exercise groups (≥casual) compared to the older sedentary group. MMP-1, -3 had a weak positive relationship with central PWV (r = 0.17-0.25, p ≤ 0.050) but there were no significant relationships between MMPs or TIMPs and LV stiffness constant (p ≥ 0.148). In conclusion, there was not a clear or consistent difference in plasma MMPs and TIMPs with lifelong exercise dose despite exhibiting lower cardiovascular stiffness at the highest exercise levels.

Keywords: Aging; Exercise; Matrix metalloproteinases; Stiffness; Tissue inhibitors of matrix metalloproteinases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Cardiovascular Physiological Phenomena
  • Correlation of Data
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Extracellular Matrix / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase Inhibitors / blood*
  • Matrix Metalloproteinases / blood*
  • Middle Aged
  • Vascular Stiffness / physiology*


  • Matrix Metalloproteinase Inhibitors
  • Matrix Metalloproteinases