Age-related diastolic dysfunction has been attributed to an increased passive stiffness, which is regulated by extracellular matrix (ECM). We recently showed that matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-9, an ECM mediator, increases in the left ventricle (LV) with age. The aim of this study, accordingly, was to determine the role of MMP-9 in cardiac ageing.
Methods and results
We compared LV function in young (6–9 months), middle-aged (12–15 months), old (18–24 months) and senescent (26–34 months) wild-type (WT) and MMP-9 null mice (n ≥ 12/group). All groups had similar fractional shortenings and aortic peak velocities, indicating that systolic function was not altered by ageing or MMP-9 deletion. The mitral ratios of early to late diastolic filling velocities were reduced in old and senescent WT compared with young controls, and this reduction was attenuated in MMP-9 null mice. Concomitantly, the increase in LV collagen content was reduced in MMP-9 null mice (n = 5-6/group). To dissect the mechanisms of these changes, we evaluated the mRNA expression levels of 84 ECM and adhesion molecules by real-time qPCR (n = 6/group). The expression of pro-fibrotic periostin and connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) increased with senescence, as did transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β)-induced protein levels and Smad signalling, and these increases were blunted by MMP-9 deletion. In senescence, MMP-9 deletion also resulted in a compensatory increase in MMP-8.
MMP-9 deletion attenuates the age-related decline in diastolic function, in part by reducing TGF-β signalling-induced periostin and CTGF expression and increasing MMP-8 expression to regulate myocardial collagen turnover and deposition.