Reasons for performing study: Airway matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) increase after endotoxin (LPS) exposure, but there are no reports describing dose-dependent increases or activation following exposure.
Objectives: To study matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) and -2 (MMP-2) responses in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) from heaves-susceptible and control horses following inhalation of hay dust suspension (HDS), LPS and Aspergillus fumigatus extract (AFE).
Methods: Heaves-susceptible (n = 7) and control (n = 6) horses received inhalation challenges with 3 different doses of HDS and LPS. Heaves-susceptible horses (n = 6) also received 3 different doses of AFE and one dose of AFE depleted of endotoxin (AFE-LPS). BALF collected following inhalation challenges was analysed using gelatin zymography. Gelatinolytic bands were identified as complex, pro-MMP-9, active MMP-9, pro-MMP-2 and active MMP-2 based on molecular weights.
Results: Each challenge substance induced a dose-dependent elevation in gelatinolytic activity. The dose-dependency was most evident for pro-MMP-9 and total MMP-9 levels in heaves-susceptible horses following LPS challenges.
Conclusions: There is a dose-dependent elevation in MMP-9 in BALF of heaves-susceptible and control horses following inhalation challenge with organic dust and some of its components, elevation being more marked in heaves-susceptible horses. Organic dust components vary in their pro-inflammatory potential.
Potential relevance: This study supports the role of MMPs in the pathogenesis of heaves and highlights the potential value of protease inhibitors in attenuating the airway inflammatory response to inhaled organic dust.