Increased expression of 72-kd type IV collagenase (MMP-2) in human aortic atherosclerotic lesions

Zhihe Li, Ling Li, H. Ronald Zielke, Linda Cheng, Ruiping Xiao, Michael T. Crow, William G. Stetler-Stevenson, Jeffery Froehlich, Edward G. Lakatta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

217 Scopus citations


MMP-2, a secreted 72-kd metalloproteinase that specifically degrades type IV collagen as well as denatured collagens, has been implicated in smooth muscle cell migration. To evaluate the possible contribution of this enzyme to the formation and progression of the atherosclerotic lesion, the expression of MMP-2 was studied in human aortic tissue. MMP-2 was visualized in frozen sections of the aortic wall by an immunofluorescent technique with a polyclonal antibody. Expression of MMP-2 in the aortic extracts was also studied by zymography and Western blotting. Our results reveal that a greater amount of MMP-2 is present in fatty streaks and atherosclerotic plaques as compared with normal regions of the aorta. Immunoblotting analysis showed that MMP-2 was expressed in atherosclerotic plaque > fatty streak > normal aortic wall in a ratio of approximately 4:2:1. Zymograms show that both forms (activated and latent) of MMP-2 increased in the atherosclerotic plaques. The presence of macrophages, detected by an immunohistochemical technique in some areas of higher MMP-2 expression suggests that these cells are a possible source of MMP-2. We conclude that MMP-2 collagenase may have a role in the formation and progression of the atherosclerotic lesion and may be involved in clinical complications of atherosclerosis, such as fissure and rupture, leading to thrombosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-128
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Pathology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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