Clinical Research Papers:

Critical role of matrix metallopeptidase 9 in postoperative cognitive dysfunction and age-dependent cognitive decline

Jiangjiang Bi _, Weiran Shan, Ailin Luo and Zhiyi Zuo

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:51817-51829. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.15545

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Jiangjiang Bi1,2, Weiran Shan1, Ailin Luo2 and Zhiyi Zuo1

1 Department of Anesthesiology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA

2 Department of Anesthesiology, Tongji Hospital, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, Hubei, China

Correspondence to:

Zhiyi Zuo, email:

Keywords: age-dependent cognitive decline; matrix metallopeptidase 9; neuroinflammation; postoperative cognitive dysfunction

Received: December 22, 2015 Accepted: January 31, 2017 Published: February 20, 2017


Background: Postoperative cognitive dysfunction (POCD) is a significant clinical syndrome. Neuroinflammation is an important pathological process for POCD. However, it is not clear how systemic inflammation induced by surgery on peripheral tissues or organs is transmitted into the brain. We determined whether matrix metallopeptidase 9 (MMP9), a protein that can increase blood-brain barrier permeability, is critical in this transmission. The role of MMP9 in age-dependent cognitive decline was also determined.

Methods: Two-month old male C57BL/6J wild-type mice and MMP9-/- mice were randomly assigned to control or surgery groups. The surgery was right carotid artery exposure under isoflurane anesthesia. Cognitive function was tested from one week after the surgery by Barnes maze and fear conditioning. Cognitive function of 2-month old C57BL/6J mice was compared with that of 18-month old mice.

Results: Surgery increased the expression of interleukin 1β, interleukin 6 and ionized calcium binding adapter molecule 1, inflammation indicators, in the brain of the wild-type mice. Blood-brain barrier permeability was increased by surgery. Surgery also impaired the learning and memory of these mice. These surgical effects were absent in the MMP9-/- mice. Eighteen-month old wild-type mice had poorer performance in Barnes maze and fear conditioning tests and lower MMP9 protein expression and activity than did the 2-month old mice.

Conclusion: MMP9 is critical for transmission of systemic inflammation into the brain for POCD. MMP9 may also play a role in age-dependent cognitive decline.

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