Objective: To measure serum levels of collagenase (MMP-1), stromelysin-1 (MMP-3), and tissue inhibitor of matrix metalloproteinases-1 (TIMP-1) in normal subjects and in patients with osteoarthritis (OA), and to assess how these correlate with biochemical and clinical indicators of disease activity in OA.
Methods: Specific immunoassays were used to measure MMPs, TIMP-1, and antigenic keratan sulfate (KS). The total area of cartilage affected by the disease was measured (expressed as an articular index).
Results: In the normal population (n = 118), the serum concentration of MMP-3, but not of MMP-1 or TIMP-1, increased with age and was approximately 2 times higher in males than in females. In the OA patients (n = 33), the serum levels of MMP-3, but not of MMP-1 or TIMP-1, were significantly elevated and correlated strongly with the articular index but poorly with objective and subjective functional capacity scores as well as with serum levels of antigenic KS and systemic parameters of inflammation.
Conclusion: These findings illustrate the importance of matching patients and normal controls for age and sex in further studies of MMP-3 and are consistent with the hypothesis that MMP-3 might play an important role in the degradation of joint cartilage in OA. Further, serum levels of MMP-3 may prove useful for monitoring therapy for OA.