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Matrix metalloproteinases and atherosclerotic plaque instability. BJS 2002; 89: 680-694.

Published: 5th November 2002

Authors: I. M. Loftus, A. R. Naylor, P. R. F. Bell, M. M. Thompson


There is growing interest in the role of matrix metalloproteinases in atherosclerosis. Excessive tissue remodelling and increased matrix metalloproteinase activity have been demonstrated during atherosclerotic plaque disruption, a frequent predeterminant of ischaemic cardiac events and stroke. These enzymes represent a potential target for therapeutic intervention to modify vascular pathology.


The core of this review is derived from a Medline database literature search.


There is convincing evidence of increased matrix metalloproteinase activity during acute plaque disruption. Evidence for an imbalance promoting increased matrix degradation is less well documented. However, studies of matrix metalloproteinase inhibition in models of vascular disease suggest a potential therapeutic benefit.


In vivo studies of matrix metalloproteinase inhibition are required to study the potential for reversal or deceleration of the excessive tissue remodelling that accompanies acute plaque disruption. © 2002 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd

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