The effects of ageing on matrix metalloprotease degradation of the extracellular matrix during corneal wound healing are largely unknown. The following study used an in vitro model of ageing to assess changes in MMP-2 RNA expression and protein secretion. Early passage (EP) EK1.BR keratocyte cultures from 14 to 18 cumulative population doublings (cpds) and late passage (LP) cultures from 40 to 47 cpds were used to isolate protein and mRNA samples. Total protein from EP and LP cultures was measured using the Bradford protein assay. Zymographic analysis of EP and LP samples was carried out to compare MMP-2 activity. Northern blot analysis was used to assess changes in MMP-2 mRNA expression by EP and LP cultures, using a digoxigenin (DIG) based chemiluminescent detection system. LP cultures secreted more total protein per cell. MMP-2 but not MMP-9 activity was detected in keratocyte cultures. Densitometric analysis of zymograms and calculation of MMP-2 activity indicated a significant increase in MMP-2 activity per cell (P<0.05, n=11). No difference was observed in the levels of MMP-2 mRNA expressed by EP and LP cultures. An increase in MMP-2 activity per cell by LP cultures suggests that senescent keratocytes increase their degradative capacity. Similar changes in the keratocyte phenotype within the ageing cornea may alter the balanced response necessary for adequate wound healing and may have implications for the therapeutic use of MMP inhibitors in the eye.
- wound healing