Expression patterns of matrix metalloproteinases and their inhibitors in parenchymal and non-parenchymal cells of rat liver: regulation by TNF-alpha and TGF-beta1

J Hepatol. 1999 Jan;30(1):48-60. doi: 10.1016/s0168-8278(99)80007-5.


Background/aims: Although matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and their specific inhibitors (TIMPs) play an essential role in liver injury associated with tissue remodeling, the cellular origin of MMPs/TMPs within the liver remains to be clarified.

Methods: Different liver cell populations were analysed with respect to their expression by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction, Northern blot analysis and zymography.

Results: MMP and TIMP coding transcripts were detectable in all liver cell types by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction; however, the cellular expression levels were markedly different as assessed by Northern blot analysis. Gelatinase-B was predominantly expressed in Kupffer cells, gelatinase-A in hepatic stellate cells and rat liver myofibroblasts and stromelysins-1, -2 as well as collagenase in hepatic stellate cells. Membrane type-1 MMP (MMP-14) was found in significant amounts in all liver cells. TIMP-1 coding m-RNAs were present mainly in hepatic stellate cells and rat liver myofibroblasts, TIMP-2 additionally in Kupffer cells, while TIMP-3 expression was detectable only in hepatocytes. During in vitro activation of hepatic stellate cells, MMP expression was mostly downregulated, while TIMP expression was enhanced, thereby providing an explanation for matrix accumulation co-localised with these cells during chronic liver injury. In general, TNF-alpha stimulated both MMP and TIMP expression of hepatic stellate cells, while TGF-beta1 induced TIMP expression only.

Conclusions: Collectively these data demonstrate that all resident liver cells are involved in matrix degradation to some extent and that hepatic stellate cells play an important role in matrix breakdown in addition to matrix synthesis. The cytokine-specific regulation of MMP/TIMP expression in hepatic stellate cells suggests that the initial matrix breakdown following liver injury might be enhanced by TNF-alpha, while diminished matrix degradation during chronic tissue injury might be due to the action of TGF-beta1 through TIMP induction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Liver / cytology
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Liver / enzymology
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Metalloendopeptidases / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Tissue Inhibitor of Metalloproteinases / metabolism*
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / pharmacology*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / pharmacology*


  • Tissue Inhibitor of Metalloproteinases
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Metalloendopeptidases