Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are a family of enzymes whose main function is degradation of the extracellular matrix. These enzymes are present in healthy human gastrointestinal mucosa, where they contribute to the maintenance of epithelial turnover, barrier integrity and mucosal functions, however, our principal interest relates to their role in certain disease states in which breakdown of the extracellular matrix is a key feature. It is current opinion that activated T lymphocytes are responsible of the damage of the gut mucosa, and now it is clear that their action is mediated by an increased production of MMPs by stromal cells, glandular epithelial cells, macrophages and neoplastic cells. In gastrointestinal tract, the pathological conditions in which a pivotal role of MMPs has been demonstrated include: peptic ulcer, coeliac disease, inflammatory bowel disease and cancer. Natural inhibitors of MMPs exist, and synthetic inhibitors have been developed which offer the hope for new treatment options in these pathological conditions.
|Translated title of the contribution||Matrix metalloproteinases and the gastrointestinal tract|
|Number of pages||5|
|Journal||EOS Rivista di Immunologia ed Immunofarmacologia|
|Publication status||Published - 2001|
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