Elevated plasma matrix metalloproteinases and their tissue inhibitors in patients with severe sepsis

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Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are essential for tissue remodeling. Our objectives were to determine (1) the concentrations of MMPs and their tissue inhibitors (TIMPs) in plasma obtained from patients with severe sepsis, (2) to correlate changes in MMP and TIMP levels with disease severity, and (3) to investigate recombinant activated protein C (rAPC) actions on plasma MMP2, 9 activities from severe sepsis patients.

Materials and methods:

Matrix metalloproteinase and TIMP levels were quantified in plasma from patients with severe sepsis using antibody microarrays and gelatin zymography.


Plasma MMPs (3, 7, 8, 9) and TIMPs (1, 2, 4) on microarray were increased in severe sepsis on intensive care unit (ICU) day 1, with more than 3-fold increases in MMP3, MMP7, MMP8, MMP9, and TIMP4. Latent forms of MMP2, 9 on zymography were increased in plasma from patients with severe sepsis, whereas only half of severe sepsis patients showed active MMP9. Elevated MMP7 and MMP9 on ICU days 1 and 3 negatively correlated with multiple organ dysfunctions. The temporal activity patterns of MMP2, 9 during 21 ICU days were not altered in patients treated with rAPC or by the addition of exogenous rAPC to plasma.


Most plasma MMPs and TIMPS were elevated in patients with severe sepsis, but only a limited subset of MMPs (7, 9) negatively correlated with disease severity. Recombinant activated protein C does not appear to directly alter MMP2, 9 activities.

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