Increased expression of membrane type 3-matrix metalloproteinase in human atherosclerotic plaque: role of activated macrophages and inflammatory cytokines

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


BACKGROUND: Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are thought to play a prominent role in atherogenesis and destabilization of plaque. Pericellularly localized membrane-type (MT)-MMPs activate secreted MMPs. We investigated the hypothesis that MT3-MMP is expressed in human atherosclerotic plaques and is regulated by locally produced inflammatory cytokines and oxidized low-density lipoprotein (Ox-LDL). METHODS AND RESULTS: Expression and cellular localization of MT3-MMP in normal and atherosclerotic human coronary arteries were examined using specific antibodies. Abundant MT3-MMP expression was noted in medial smooth muscle cells (SMCs) of normal arteries. In atherosclerotic arteries, MT3-MMP expression was observed within complex plaques and colocalized with SMCs and macrophages (Mphi). Cultured human monocyte-derived Mphi constitutively expressed MT3-MMP mRNA and proteolytically active protein, as demonstrated by mRNA analyses, immunoblotting, and gelatin zymography, respectively. Ox-LDL, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, or macrophage colony-stimulating factor caused dose- and time-dependent increases in steady-state levels of MT3-MMP mRNA in cultured Mphi. This correlated with a 2- to 4-fold increase in levels of MT3-MMP immunoreactive protein and enzymatic activity in Mphi membranes. Confocal microscopy and flow cytometry confirmed induction and spatial distribution of MT3-MMP protein from intracellular domains to the Mphi plasma membrane by Ox-LDL, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, or macrophage colony-stimulating factor. CONCLUSIONS: MT3-MMP is expressed by SMCs and Mphi in human atherosclerotic plaques. Proinflammatory molecules cause a progressive increase in the expression of MT3-MMP in cultured Mphi. Our results suggest a mechanism by which inflammatory molecules could promote Mphi-mediated degradation of extracellular matrix and thereby contribute to plaque destabilization.


  • Hiroyasu Uzui
  • Alice Harpf
  • Ming Liu
  • Terence M Doherty
  • Arun Shukla
  • Ning-Ning Chai
  • Pinky V Tripathi
  • Stefan Jovinge
  • Douglas J Wilkin
  • Kamlesh Asotra
  • Prediman K Shah
  • Tripathi B Rajavashisth
External organisations
  • External Organization - Unknown
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Cardiac and Cardiovascular Systems
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3024-3030
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 2002
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographic note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015. The record was previously connected to the following departments: Hematopoietic Stem Cell Laboratory (013022012)