Year of Publication


Document Type



Graduate School



First Advisor

Alan Daugherty


Matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2, gelatinase A, type IV collagenase) is a member of a family of zinc-dependent metalloendopeptidases that functions in the degradation of elastin, collagens, and other components of extracellular matrix (ECM). Both secretion and activation of MMP-2 are elevated in human atherosclerotic lesions and abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA). In this dissertation project, we sought to test the hypothesis that MMP-2 plays a critical role in both atherosclerosis and AAA. We also sought to determine the detailed mechanism. We first examined the atherosclerosis and AngII-induced AAAs development in MMP-2-/- x apolipoprotein (apoE)-/- mice in vivo. It was surprising that MMP-2 deficiency did not reduce the incidence of AngII-induced AAAs or the size of atherosclerosis in apoE-/- mice. However, the cellular and ECM content of atherosclerotic plaques were modified in MMP-2-/- x apoE-/- mice as compared to MMP-2+/+ x apoE-/- control mice. To explain the apparent paradox between this result and the hypothesis, we investigated the morphological characteristics of the aortic wall of MMP-2-/- mice. We detected an enhanced MMP-9 level in the aortic wall of MMP-2-/- x apoE-/- mice compared with MMP-2+/+ x apoE-/- mice. Interestingly, we also observed more branching of the elastin fibers in aortic wall of MMP-2-/- mice as compared with aorta of wild type mice. We also examined the behavior of macrophages from MMP-2-/- mice. Reduced adhesion, migration, and expression of integrin beta 3 were detected in MMP-2 deficient macrophages compared with wild type macrophages. Lastly, we examined whether MMP-2 deficiency in bone marrow-derived cells may influence AAAs and atherosclerosis using bone marrow transplantation technique. There was a significant reduction of both atherosclerosis development and AAAs formation in mice that were reconstituted MMP-2-/- bone marrow cells. In conclusion, the findings in this dissertation suggest that MMP-2 might play an important role in atherosclerosis and aneurysm through influencing inflammatory cell infiltration.