Purpose: To test the hypothesis that extracellular matrix turnover, mediated by the matrix metalloproteinases, modulates aqueous humor outflow facility in a human outflow model.
Methods: Matrix metalloproteinase activity was manipulated and outflow facility evaluated using perfused human anterior segment organ culture. Purified matrix metalloproteinases, tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases (TIMPs), and several families of synthetic inhibitors of matrix metalloproteinases were added to the perfusion medium. Matrix metalloproteinase expression was increased by adding recombinant interleukin (IL)-1alpha. Kinetic inhibition analysis was conducted for stromelysin, gelatinase A, and gelatinase B with the various inhibitors. Live-dead staining was used to evaluate culture viability.
Results: Increasing metalloproteinase activity, by adding purified metalloproteinases or by inducing their expression by IL-1alpha treatment, increased outflow facility. Inhibition of endogenous trabecular metalloproteinase activity using TIMP or several families of synthetic metalloproteinase inhibitors reduced outflow rates. The elevation and the reduction of outflow rates were reversible, with changes requiring 1 to 3 days. Kinetic enzyme inhibition analysis produced 50% inhibitory concentration values for these inhibitors that were compatible with the concentration ranges for outflow inhibition. CONCLUSIONS. The ability of several specific matrix metalloproteinase inhibitors to reduce outflow facility implies that endogenous extracellular matrix turnover by these enzymes was required for the maintenance of trabecular outflow resistance, at least in this human culture model. These observations provide support for the hypothesis that controlled extracellular matrix turnover is important in the regulation of aqueous humor outflow facility.