Despite medical treatments or surgical options, more than one-third of patients with Crohn's disease suffer from recurring fistulae. Matrix metalloprotease 9 (MMP-9), a type IV collagenase that cleaves components of the extracellular matrix leading to tissue remodeling, is upregulated in crypt abscesses and around fistulae suggesting an important role for this enzyme in fistula formation. Our aims were (1) to correlate serum levels of MMP-9 degradation products in patients with CD with the presence of fistulae and (2) to investigate the impact of selective MMP-9 inhibition in a mouse model of intestinal fibrosis.Methods:
Serum MMP-9 degradation products were quantified in subjects affected with nonstricturing and nonpenetrating CD (n = 50), stricturing CD (n = 41), penetrating CD (n = 22), CD with perianal fistula (n = 29), and healthy controls (n = 10). Therapeutic efficacy of anti-MMP-9 monoclonal antibodies was assessed in a heterotopic xenograft model of intestinal fibrosis.Results:
C3M, an MMP-9 degradation product of collagen III, demonstrated the highest serum levels in patients with penetrating CD and differentiated penetrating CD from other CD subgroups and healthy controls, P = 0.0005. Anti-MMP-9 treatments reduced collagen deposition and hydroxyproline content in day-14 intestinal grafts indicating reduced fibrosis.Conclusions:
The serologic biomarker C3M can discriminate penetrating CD from other CD subgroups and could serve as marker for the development of penetrating CD. Anti-MMP-9 antibody has therapeutic potential to prevent intestinal fibrosis in CD complications.