The effects of corticosteroids on the level and expression of matrix metalloproteinase-8 (MMP-8; collagenase-2) and tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases (TIMPs) in airway tissue are poorly characterized in vivo.
We compared MMP-8 and TIMP-1 levels in induced sputum and their expression in airway inflammatory cells of healthy children (n = 27) and of children with newly diagnosed asthma with mild (n = 20) or moderate symptoms (n = 19), before and after 6 months of treatment with inhaled budesonide.
At baseline, MMP-8 was higher in asthmatic children with moderate symptoms, TIMP-1 was lower and the MMP-8/TIMP-1 ratio was higher in both groups of asthmatic children compared with controls. Inhaled budesonide increased TIMP-1 levels in both groups of asthmatic children and normalized the MMP-8/TIMP-1 ratio, and this paralleled the improvement in forced expiratory volume in 1 s in children with mild symptoms. At baseline, asthmatic children had significantly more MMP-8-positive macrophages than control children, whereas the number of TIMP-1-positive macrophages was almost the same. Budesonide decreased the percentage of MMP-8-positive macrophages and increased that of TIMP-1-positive macrophages; these changes were significant in asthmatic children with mild symptoms.
Inhaled budesonide normalized the MMP-8/TIMP-1 ratio in asthmatic children by upregulation of TIMP-1 production and downregulation of MMP-8 production by airway macrophages. This change may be a biochemical marker of an effect on airway inflammation and possibly of an ongoing remodeling process that should be further investigated using biopsy specimens.
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