Do Extracellular-Matrix-Regulating Enzymes Play a Role in Cervical Artery Dissection?

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An underlying extracellular matrix defect is suspected in patients with spontaneous cervical artery dissection (SCAD). We test the hypothesis that levels of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) 2 and 9, and elastase, extracellular-matrix-regulating enzymes involved in the vascular wall remodeling process, are modified in SCAD.


The authors prospectively and consecutively recruited 47 patients with SCAD and 52 patients with an ischemic stroke from another cause in 2 centers, and measured their plasmatic level of MMP-2, MMP-9 and elastase 3 months after the vascular event.


Patients with SCAD had a higher mean MMP-2 level compared with controls [379.2 (SD = 76.6) vs. 355.9 (75.1) ng/ml; p = 0.11] and had more frequently a high level of MMP-2 (>326 ng/ml) than controls (77.8 vs. 54.5%, p = 0.019). This association was stronger in patients with multiple dissection than single artery dissection or controls (84.6, 75.0 and 54.5%, respectively, p = 0.018). The levels of MMP-9 and elastase were similar in cases and controls, but more patients had a high level of these enzymes in the group with multiple dissections than in the group with single artery dissection or controls.


Patients with SCAD have higher plasma levels of proteases, particularly MMP-2. The association is stronger in patients with multiple dissections.

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