Open Access Research article

Measurement of matrix metalloproteinase 9-mediated Collagen type III degradation fragment as a marker of skin fibrosis

Efstathios Vassiliadis12*, Sanne Skovgård Veidal12, Natasha Barascuk12, Jhinuk Basu Mullick1, Rikke Elgaard Clausen13, Lise Larsen1, Henrik Simonsen1, Dorthe Vang Larsen1, Anne-Christine Bay-Jensen1, Toni Segovia-Silvestre1, Diana Julie Leeming1 and Morten A Karsdal1

Author Affiliations

1 Assay Development, Nordic Bioscience, Herlev Hovedgade 207, DK-2730, Copenhagen, Denmark

2 Dept. of Endocrinology, University of Southern Denmark, Kløvervænget 6, DK-5000, Odense, Denmark

3 Faculty of Science, Institute of Biology, University of Copenhagen, Tagensvej 16, DK-2200, Copenhagen Denmark

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BMC Dermatology 2011, 11:6  doi:10.1186/1471-5945-11-6

Published: 29 March 2011



The current study utilized a Bleomycin-induced model of skin fibrosis to investigate the neo-epitope CO3-610 (KNGETGPQGP), a fragment of collagen III released during matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP9) degradation of the protein, we have previously described as a novel biomarker for liver fibrosis. The aim was to investigate CO3-610 levels in another well characterised model of fibrosis, to better describe the biomarker in relation to additional fibrotic pathologies.


Skin fibrosis was induced by daily injections of Bleomycin to a total of 52 female C3 H mice, while control mice (n = 28) were treated with phosphate buffered saline (PBS), for 2, 4, 6 or 8 weeks. Skin fibrosis was evaluated using Visiopharm software on Sirius-red stained skin sections. Urine ELISA assays and creatinine corrections were performed to measure CO3-610 levels.


CO3-610 levels were significantly higher in Bleomycin-treated vs. PBS-treated mice at each time point of termination. The mean increases were: 59.2%, P < 0.0008, at 2 weeks; 113.5%, P < 0.001, at 4 weeks; 136.8%, P < 0.0001 at 6 weeks; 157.2%, P < 0.0001 at 8 weeks). PBS-treated mice showed a non-significant increase in CO3-610 levels (mean increase for weeks 2-8 = 1.7%, P = 0.789) CO3-610 levels assayed in urine were statistically significantly correlated with Western blot analysis showing increased skin fibrosis (P < 0.0001, r = 0.65).


Increased levels in mouse urine of the MMP-9 mediated collagen III degradation fragment CO3-610 were correlated with skin fibrosis progression, suggesting that CO3-610 may be a potential positive biomarker to study the pathogenesis of skin fibrosis in mice.