(HealthDay News) — The presence of the enzyme matrix metalloproteinase-3 (MMP-3) may play a key role in worsening spinal cord injury (SCI) and impairing long-term neurological recovery, according to research published in the November issue of The American Journal of Pathology.

Jee Youn Lee, MD, of the Kyung Hee University School of Medicine in Seoul, South Korea, and colleagues studied the effects of MMP-3 on SCI and recovery in a mouse model.

The researchers found that MMP-3 was induced in infiltrated neutrophils and blood vessels following SCI. Following SCI, blood-spinal cord barrier (BSCB) permeability and blood cell infiltration were more reduced in Mmp3 knockout (KO) mice than in wild-type (WT) mice. This effect was significantly inhibited by Mmp3 siRNA or N-isobutyl-N-(4-methoxyphenylsulfonyl)glycyl hydroxamic acid, a general inhibitor of MMPs. MMP-3 injection into normal spinal cord also induced BSCB permeability. In Mmp3 KO mice, compared with WT mice, greater functional recovery was observed.

“These results demonstrated the role of MMP-3 in BSCB disruption after SCI for the first time and suggest that the regulation of MMP-3 can be considered a therapeutic target to inhibit BSCB disruption and hemorrhage, and thereby enhance functional recovery after acute SCI,” the authors write.

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