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Indexed/Abstracted in: BIOSIS Previews, Current Contents/Clinical Medicine, EMBASE, PubMed/MEDLINE, Science Citation Index Expanded (SciSearch), Scopus
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Palombo D., Maione M. **, Cifiello B. I. **, Udini M., Maggio D., Lupo M. *
From the Division of Vascular Surgery Department of Cardiac and Vascular Diseases
* Service of Anesthesiology and Resuscitation Mauriziano “Umberto I” Hospital, Turin, Italy
** Operative Unit of Vascular Surgery Regional Hospital of Valle d’Aosta, Aosta, Italy
Background. The main chronic degenerative diseases of the abdominal aorta, namely aneurysmatic and steno-obstructive pathologies, have a common denominator: atherosclerosis. Both pathologies are characterised by the destruction of the structural integrity of the extracellular protein matrix (ME). A number of studies have shown the presence and involvement of a group of enzymes with proteolytic activity towards one or more ME components, the matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), in the pathogenesis of aneurysms of the abdominal aorta. Other authors have underlined the role of MMPs in the proliferation and migration process of smooth muscle cells into the intima in the pathogenesis of atheromasic plaque. The aim of this study was to evaluate the possible role of these enzymes in the pathogenesis of chronic degenerative diseases of the aorta.
Methods. Fragments of aortic wall were removed from patients undergoing elective aortic surgery for aneurysms (14 patients) or aortic steno-obstruction (4 patients). The samples obtained were treated appropriately and then subject to immunohistochemical analysis. The preparations were incubated with specific anti-MMP antibodies and were also incubated with substrate and chromogen, forming a pigmented precipitate on the site of the antigen, before being observed using an optic microscopic at an enlargement of 250×. Nuclear positivity linked to the presence of the antigen testified the validity of staining. Lastly, the MMP INDEX, or in other words the number of positive cells out of 100, was stained in the adventitia and in the tunica media in each preparation.
Results. MMPs were divided into three main groups: interstitial collagenase (MMP1) which degrade type I and III native collagen; gelatinases (MMP9, MMP2) which act on elastin and type IV collagen; stromelysins (MMP3) with specific proteolytic action towards proteoglycans, fibronectin and laminine. In our experience, those preparations obtained from aorta affected by steno-obstructive pathologies (4 patients) revealed the presence of MMPs with a preferential localisation on the intimal side of the tunica media. In particular, the increased activity of gelatinases MMP9 in atherosclerotic aorta might be responsible for destroying the internal elastic lamina and fostering the proliferation and migration of smooth muscle cells and the formation of atheromasic plaque. On the other hand, preparations obtained from aneurysmatic aorta (14 patients) showed an opposite situation with a preferential localisation within the adventitia and on the adventitial side of the media. Above all, the loss of elastin represents an essential stage in the formation of aortic aneurysms.
Conclusions. This study concords with numerous authors who have demonstrated the involvement of proteinase MMPs in the development of aortic aneurysms and their possible role in the pathogenesis of atheromasic plaque.
The different origin of these enzymes (inflammatory cells and macrophages or endothelial cells) may be the result of different pathogenetic mechanisms. Although they present different pathogenetic features, aortic aneurysms and steno-obstructions have a common denominator in atherosclerosis. The mechanisms responsible for their evolution towards one or other form are not known. The different expression of MMPs in the context of the aortic wall represents a field for future research.