Matrix metalloproteinases (MMP) are believed to be involved in the pathologic processes behind Alzheimer's disease (AD). In this study, we aimed to examine the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) levels of MMPs and tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinase-1 (TIMP-1) in individuals with AD dementia and cognitively healthy elderly individuals, and to investigate their relationship with established CSF biomarkers for Alzheimer's disease.
CSF was collected from 38 individuals with AD dementia and 34 cognitively healthy elderly individuals. The CSF was analyzed for MMP-1, MMP-3, MMP-9, TIMP-1, β-amyloid1-42 (Aβ42), total tau protein (T-tau) and phosphorylated tau protein (P-tau). MMP/TIMP-1 ratios were calculated. APOE genotype was determined for the participants.
AD patients had higher MMP-9/TIMP-1 ratios and lower TIMP-1 levels compared to cognitively healthy individuals. In AD patients, the MMP-9/TIMP-1 ratio correlated with CSF T-tau, a marker of neurodegeneration. Interestingly, the cognitively healthy individuals with risk markers for future AD, i.e. AD-supportive CSF biomarker levels of T-tau, P-tau and Aβ42 or the presence of the APOE ε4 allele, had higher CSF MMP-3 and MMP-9 levels and higher CSF MMP-3/TIMP-1 ratios compared to the healthy individuals without risk markers. The CSF levels of MMP-3 and -9 in the control group also correlated with the CSF T-tau and P-tau levels.
This study indicates that MMP-3 and MMP-9 might be involved in early pathogenesis of AD and that MMPs could be associated with neuronal degeneration and formation of neurofibrillary tangles even prior to development of overt cognitive dysfunction.