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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Enhanced cerebrovascular expression of matrix metalloproteinase-9 and tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-1 via the MEK/ERK pathway during cerebral ischemia in the rat

Aida Maddahi, Qingwen Chen and Lars Edvinsson*

Author Affiliations

Department of Clinical Sciences, Division of Experimental Vascular Research, BMC A13, Lund University, 221 84 Lund, Sweden

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BMC Neuroscience 2009, 10:56  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-10-56

Published: 4 June 2009

Abstract

Background

Cerebral ischemia is usually characterized by a reduction in local blood flow and metabolism and by disruption of the blood-brain barrier in the infarct region. The formation of oedema and opening of the blood-brain barrier in stroke is associated with enhanced expression of metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) and tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-1 (TIMP-1).

Results

Here, we found an infarct volume of 24.8 ± 2% and a reduced neurological function after two hours of middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO), followed by 48 hours of recirculation in rat. Immunocytochemistry and confocal microscopy revealed enhanced expression of MMP-9, TIMP-1, and phosphorylated ERK1/2 in the smooth muscle cells of the ischemic MCA and associated intracerebral microvessels. The specific MEK1/2 inhibitor U0126, given intraperitoneal zero or 6 hours after the ischemic event, reduced the infarct volume significantly (11.8 ± 2% and 14.6 ± 3%, respectively; P < 0.05), improved neurological function, normalized expression of phosphorylated ERK1/2, and reduced expression of MMP-9 and TIMP-1 in the vessel walls. Administration of U0126 12 hours after MCAO did not alter the expression of MMP-9. Immunocytochemistry showed no overlap in expression between MMP-9/TIMP-1 and the astrocyte/glial cell marker GFAP in the vessel walls.

Conclusion

These data are the first to show that the elevated vascular expression of MMP-9 and TIMP-1, associated with breakdown of the blood-brain barrier following focal ischemia, are transcriptionally regulated via the MEK/ERK pathway.