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Matrix metalloproteinase-7 facilitates immune access to the CNS in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis

Lillian A Buhler12, Ramsey Samara13, Esther Guzman1, Carole L Wilson4, Liljana Krizanac-Bengez5, Damir Janigro5 and Douglas W Ethell1*

Author affiliations

1 Division of Biomedical Sciences, University of California Riverside, 900 University Avenue, Riverside, CA 92521-0121, USA

2 Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Graduate Program, UCR, Riverside, CA 92521, USA

3 Neuroscience Graduate Program, UCR, Riverside, CA 92521, USA

4 Department of Pathology, University of Washington School of Medicine, 300 9th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98104, USA

5 Cerebrovascular Research, Cleveland Clinic Foundation NB20, Neurosurgery, 9500 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44195, USA

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Citation and License

BMC Neuroscience 2009, 10:17  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-10-17

Published: 6 March 2009



Metalloproteinase inhibitors can protect mice against experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), an animal model for multiple sclerosis (MS). Matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) has been implicated, but it is not clear if other MMPs are also involved, including matrilysin/MMP-7 – an enzyme capable of cleaving proteins that are essential for blood brain barrier integrity and immune suppression.


Here we report that MMP-7-deficient (mmp7-/-) mice on the C57Bl/6 background are resistant to EAE induced by myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG). Brain sections from MOG-primed mmp7-/-mice did not show signs of immune cell infiltration of the CNS, but MOG-primed wild-type mice showed extensive vascular cuffing and mononuclear cell infiltration 15 days after vaccination. At the peak of EAE wild-type mice had MMP-7 immuno-reactive cells in vascular cuffs that also expressed the macrophage markers Iba-1 and Gr-1, as well as tomato lectin. MOG-specific proliferation of splenocytes, lymphocytes, CD4+ and CD8+ cells were reduced in cells isolated from MOG-primed mmp7-/- mice, compared with MOG-primed wild-type mice. However, the adoptive transfer of splenocytes and lymphocytes from MOG-primed mmp7-/- mice induced EAE in naïve wild-type recipients, but not naïve mmp7-/- recipients. Finally, we found that recombinant MMP-7 increased permeability between endothelial cells in an in vitro blood-brain barrier model.


Our findings suggest that MMP-7 may facilitate immune cell access or re-stimulation in perivascular areas, which are critical events in EAE and multiple sclerosis, and provide a new therapeutic target to treat this disorder.