Open Access Research article

Functional polymorphisms in matrix metalloproteinases -1, -3, -9 and -12 in relation to cervical artery dissection

Armin Buss1*, Katrin Pech1, Susanne Roelver1, Brunhilde Bloemeke2, Christoph Klotzsch3 and Sebastian Breuer2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Neurology, Aachen University Medical School, Pauwelsstrasse 30, Aachen, Germany

2 Department of Ecotoxicology and Toxicology, University of Trier, Am Wissenschaftspark 27-29, Trier, Germany

3 Department of Neurology, Schmieder-Kliniken, Zum Tafelholz 8, Allensbach, Germany

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BMC Neurology 2009, 9:40  doi:10.1186/1471-2377-9-40

Published: 9 August 2009



Cervical artery dissection is a leading cause of cerebral ischemia in young adults. Morphological investigations have shown alterations in the extracellular matrix (ECM) of affected vessel walls. As matrix metalloproteinases (MMP) play a central role in the regulation of the ECM, an increased expression of these enzymes might lead to the endothelial damage in spontaneous cervical artery dissection (sCAD). Five different DNA polymorphisms in MMP-1, -3, -9 and -12 were tested for their frequency in patients with sCAD and compared with those of a control population.


Blood was sampled from 70 unrelated patients presenting consecutively in the department of neurology of the Aachen University Medical School with sCAD and from 87 control subjects living in the same area as the patients. The MMP polymorphisms were analyzed with hybridization probes using the LightCyclerâ„¢ (Roche Diagnostics), by sequencing using the ABI 310 Genetic Analyzer (Applied Biosystems) and with the GeneScan program on a ABI 310 Genetic Analyzer.


No statistically significant differences in the allelic distribution were found between sCAD patients and the controls.


Alleles of these 5 functional polymorphisms of MMPs seem not to be associated with structural alterations in the blood vessel wall of sCAD patients. However, this does not exclude a pathogenetic role for MMPs in sCAD via secondary factors such as cytokines that are able to induce these enzymes in cervical blood vessel walls.