Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) have been implicated in the pathogenesis of pulmonary fibrosis. To understand the role of MMP-2 and MMP-9 in pulmonary fibrosis, we evaluated the sequential dynamic change and different cellular sources of the 2 MMPs along the time course and their differential expression in the bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid and in the lung parenchyma of the bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis models in rats.
Materials and Methods
The level of MMPs in BAL fluid of 54 bleomycin-treated rats was assessed by zymography from 1 to 28 days after intratracheal bleomycin instillation. The level of MMPs in lung parenchyma was evaluated by immunohistochemistry.
MMP-2 and MMP-9 were markedly increased in both the BAL fluid and in the lung parenchyma of the bleomycin-treated rats, especially in the early phase with the peak on the 4th day. The levels of both MMPs in the BAL fluid correlated generally well to those in lung parenchyma, although the level of MMP-9 in BAL fluid was higher than MMP-2. In the lung parenchyma, the 2 MMPs, in early stage, were predominantly expressed in the inflammatory cells. In late stage, type II pneumocytes and alveolar epithelial cells at the periphery of the fibrotic foci retained MMP expression, which was more prominent in the cells showing features of cellular injury and/or repair.
In bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis, MMP-2 and MMP-9 may play important roles, especially in the early phase. In the late stage, the MMP-2 and MMP-9 may play a role in the process of repair.