Matrix Metalloproteinase-1 Activation Contributes to Airway Smooth Muscle Growth and Asthma Severity

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Abstract

Rationale:

Matrix metalloproteinase-1 (MMP-1) and mast cells are present in the airways of people with asthma.

Objectives:

To investigate whether MMP-1 could be activated by mast cells and increase asthma severity.

Methods:

Patients with stable asthma and healthy control subjects underwent spirometry, methacholine challenge, and bronchoscopy, and their airway smooth muscle cells were grown in culture. A second asthma group and control subjects had symptom scores, spirometry, and bronchoalveolar lavage before and after rhinovirus-induced asthma exacerbations. Extracellular matrix was prepared from decellularized airway smooth muscle cultures. MMP-1 protein and activity were assessed.

Measurements and Main Results:

Airway smooth muscle cells generated pro-MMP-1, which was proteolytically activated by mast cell tryptase. Airway smooth muscle treated with activated mast cell supernatants produced extracellular matrix, which enhanced subsequent airway smooth muscle growth by 1.5-fold (P < 0.05), which was dependent on MMP-1 activation. In asthma, airway pro-MMP-1 was 5.4-fold higher than control subjects (P = 0.002). Mast cell numbers were associated with airway smooth muscle proliferation and MMP-1 protein associated with bronchial hyperresponsiveness. During exacerbations, MMP-1 activity increased and was associated with fall in FEV1 and worsening asthma symptoms.

Conclusions:

MMP-1 is activated by mast cell tryptase resulting in a proproliferative extracellular matrix. In asthma, mast cells are associated with airway smooth muscle growth, MMP-1 levels are associated with bronchial hyperresponsiveness, and MMP-1 activation are associated with exacerbation severity. Our findings suggest that airway smooth muscle/mast cell interactions contribute to asthma severity by transiently increasing MMP activation, airway smooth muscle growth, and airway responsiveness.

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