Hemorrhoids and matrix metalloproteinases: A multicenter study on the predictive role of biomarkers

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An association between hemorrhoidal disease and matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) has been described previously. MMPs regulate extracellular structural proteins and tissue remodeling. Neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin (NGAL) is involved in the regulation of MMP activity. The aim of this work was to study the relationship between tissue immunoreactive levels of MMPs and NGAL and different stages of hemorrhoids.


In a multicenter, open-label, prospective study, the population under investigation consisted of 2 groups: group I (with symptomatic hemorrhoids; Goligher grade I–IV) and group II (healthy volunteers).


We enrolled 97 patients with hemorrhoids: 21 with grade I hemorrhoids, 37 with grade II, 14 with grade III, and 25 with grade IV. Finally, 90 healthy volunteers (53 males and 37 females; age range, 19–70 years; median, 56) were enrolled in group II. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and Western blot analysis revealed greater levels of immunoreactive MMPs and NGAL in all patients with hemorrhoids. We recorded significantly greater levels of MMP-1 and MMP-3 in grade I and II patients compared with control, and greater levels of MMP-3, MMP-7, MMP-8, and MMP-9 in grade III compared with grade II. MMP-9 and NGAL were particularly increased in patients with grade IV especially in case of thrombosed hemorrhoids.


These results provide potentially important insights into the understanding of the natural history of hemorrhoids. MMPs and NGAL play a role in development of disease and may represent molecular markers for the complications such as hemorrhoidal thrombosis.

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