Matrix metalloproteinase expression during experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis and effects of a combined matrix metalloproteinase and tumour necrosis factor-alpha inhibitor

J Neuroimmunol. 1997 Apr;74(1-2):85-94. doi: 10.1016/s0165-5728(96)00210-x.


Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are a large family of Zn2+ endopeptidases that are expressed in inflammatory conditions and are capable of degrading connective tissue macromolecules. MMP-like enzymes are also involved in the processing of a variety of cell surface molecules including the pro-inflammatory cytokine TNF-alpha. MMPs and TNF-alpha have both been implicated in the pathology associated with neuro-inflammatory diseases (NIDs), particularly multiple sclerosis (MS) and its animal model experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). We have shown that BB-1101, a broad spectrum hydroxamic acid-based combined inhibitor of MMP activity and TNF processing, reduces the clinical signs and weight loss in an acute EAE model in Lewis rats. However, little is known about which MMPs are involved in the neuroinflammatory process. In order to determine the optimum inhibitory profile for an MMP inhibitor in the treatment of NID, we investigated the profile of MMP expression and activity during EAE. The development of disease symptoms was associated with a 3-fold increase in MMP activity in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), which could be inhibited by treatment with BB-1101, and an increase in 92 kDa gelatinase activity detected by gelatin substrate zymography. Quantitative PCR analysis of normal and EAE spinal cord revealed the expression of at least seven MMPs. Of these, matrilysin showed the most significant change, being elevated over 500 fold with onset of clinical symptoms and peaking at maximum disease severity. Of the other six MMPs detected, 92 kDa gelatinase showed a modest 5 fold increase which peaked at the onset of clinical signs and then declined during the most severe phase of the disease. Matrilysin was localised by immunohistochemistry to the invading macrophages within the inflammatory lesions of the spinal cord. Matrilysin's potent broad spectrum proteolytic activity and its localisation to inflammatory lesions in the CNS suggest this enzyme could be particularly involved in the pathological processes associated with neuro-inflammatory disease.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Benzyl Compounds
  • Dexamethasone / pharmacology
  • Drug Combinations
  • Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental / metabolism*
  • Extracellular Matrix / enzymology*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 7
  • Metalloendopeptidases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Metalloendopeptidases / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Metalloendopeptidases / metabolism*
  • Pentoxifylline / pharmacology
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Protease Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Lew
  • Spinal Cord / metabolism
  • Succinates
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / antagonists & inhibitors*


  • BB 1101
  • Benzyl Compounds
  • Drug Combinations
  • Protease Inhibitors
  • Succinates
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Dexamethasone
  • Metalloendopeptidases
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 7
  • Pentoxifylline