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Acute- and late-phase matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-9 activity is comparable in female and male rats after peripheral nerve injury.


BACKGROUND:In the peripheral nerve, pro-inflammatory matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-9 performs essential functions in the acute response to injury. Whether MMP-9 activity contributes to late-phase injury or whether MMP-9 expression or activity after nerve injury is sexually dimorphic remains unknown. METHODS:Patterns of MMP-9 expression, activity and excretion were assessed in a model of painful peripheral neuropathy, sciatic nerve chronic constriction injury (CCI), in female and male rats. Real-time Taqman RT-PCR for MMP-9 and its endogenous inhibitor, tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-1 (TIMP-1) of nerve samples over a 2-month time course of CCI was followed by gelatin zymography of crude nerve extracts and purified MMP-9 from the extracts using gelatin Sepharose-beads. MMP excretion was determined using protease activity assay of urine in female and male rats with CCI. RESULTS:The initial upsurge in nerve MMP-9 expression at day 1 post-CCI was superseded more than 100-fold at day 28 post-CCI. The high level of MMP-9 expression in late-phase nerve injury was accompanied by the reduction in TIMP-1 level. The absence of MMP-9 in the normal nerve and the presence of multiple MMP-9 species (the proenzyme, mature enzyme, homodimers, and heterodimers) was observed at day 1 and day 28 post-CCI. The MMP-9 proenzyme and mature enzyme species dominated in the early- and late-phase nerve injury, consistent with the high and low level of TIMP-1 expression, respectively. The elevated nerve MMP-9 levels corresponded to the elevated urinary MMP excretion post-CCI. All of these findings were comparable in female and male rodents. CONCLUSION:The present study offers the first evidence for the excessive, uninhibited proteolytic MMP-9 activity during late-phase painful peripheral neuropathy and suggests that the pattern of MMP-9 expression, activity, and excretion after peripheral nerve injury is universal in both sexes.

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