MMP-12, MMP-3, and TIMP-1 Are Markedly Upregulated in Chronic Demyelinating Theiler Murine Encephalomyelitis

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Theiler murine encephalomyelitis (TME) represents a highly relevant viral model for multiple sclerosis. Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) degrade extracellular matrix molecules and are involved in demyelination processes. To elucidate their impact on demyelination in TME, spinal cords of TME virus (TMEV)-infected SJL/J mice were taken at 9 different time points postinfection (pi) ranging from 1 hour to 196 days pi and investigated for the expression of TMEV, MMP-2, -3, -7, -9, -10, -11, -12, -13, -14, -15, -24, and TIMP-1 to -4 by reverse transcription-quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR). High TMEV RNA levels were detectable throughout the observation period using RT-qPCR. In addition, TMEV RNA was visualized within demyelinated lesions by in situ hybridization. MMP-3 mRNA was significantly upregulated at 1 day pi and again in the late phase of infection. TIMP-1 mRNA was significantly elevated throughout the observation period. MMP-12 mRNA was most prominently upregulated in the late phase of infection and MMP-12 protein was localized in intralesional microglia/macrophages and astrocytes by immunohistochemistry. In summary, in early TMEV infection, MMP-3 and TIMP-1 mRNA upregulation might be directly virus-induced, whereas persistent TMEV infection directly or indirectly stimulated MMP-12 production in microglia/macrophages and astrocytes and might account for ongoing demyelination in TME.

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