A novel and simple immunocapture assay for determination of gelatinase-B (MMP-9) activities in biological fluids: saliva from patients with Sjögren's syndrome contain increased latent and active gelatinase-B levels

Matrix Biol. 1998 Dec;17(8-9):657-65. doi: 10.1016/s0945-053x(98)90116-0.


Here we describe a new principle for accessing the activity of the different members of the human matrix-metalloproteinases (MMPs) by a colorimetric assay. Using protein engineering, a modified pro-urokinase was made in which the activation sequence, normally recognized by plasmin (ProArgPheLys/IleIleGlyGly), was replaced by a sequence that is specifically recognized by MMPs (ArgProLeuGly/IleIleGlyGly). The active urokinase resulting from the activation of this modified pro-urokinase by MMPs can be measured directly using a chromogenic peptide substrate for urokinase. The assay has been made specific for MMP-9 using an MMP-9 specific monoclonal antibody. Using this antibody MMP-9 is captured from biological fluids or tissue culture media, and MMP-activity of both active and latent MMP-9 can be analysed. We determined the gelatinase-B (MMP-9) activity present in saliva from patients with Sjögren's syndrome. Using a general gelatinase assay with radioactively-labeled gelatinated collagen it was observed that gelatinase activity was slightly, though not significantly, increased in patients: general gelatinase activity in patients versus healthy controls: 17.0 +/- 4.9 vs 12.2 +/- 2.5 x 10(4) cpm/ml (p > 0.05, and 44.0 (4.0 vs 36.1 +/- 1.9 x 10(4) cpm/ml (p > 0.05), for active and latent gelatinase, respectively. However, using the immunocapture activity assay (using modified urokinase) specifically MMP-9 activity was measured, which was significantly increased in saliva from patients compared to healthy controls: MMP-9 (already active): patients 8.9 +/- 2.5 U/mg, controls 1.0 +/- 0.5 U/mg (p = 0.002); latent plus active MMP-9: patients 53.1 +/- 9.8 U/mg, controls 16.5 +/- 2.6 U/mg (p = 0.01). This assay, measuring MMP-9 activity using modified pro-urokinase as a substrate can easily be adapted for the specific detection of the various members of the MMP-family or other difficult to measure proteases, in a format that can be used for high throughput screening of compounds or samples.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / immunology
  • Antibody Specificity
  • Collagenases / immunology
  • Collagenases / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoassay*
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 9
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Saliva / enzymology*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sjogren's Syndrome / enzymology*
  • Tissue Inhibitor of Metalloproteinase-2 / metabolism


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Tissue Inhibitor of Metalloproteinase-2
  • Collagenases
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 9