Background: Matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-7 was reported to be a key molecule in the pathogenesis of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) based on the result of microarray analysis and knockout mice. However, the role of MMP-7 has not been determined in other types of idiopathic interstitial pneumonia (IIP). The aim of this study was to investigate the role of MMP-7 in IIP by comparing its expression in usual interstitial pneumonia (UIP) and cryptogenic organizing pneumonia (COP).
Methods: Levels of MMP and tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinase in BAL fluid and their expression on lung tissues were compared between normal control subjects (n = 5) and the patients with IPF (n = 6) and COP (n = 11).
Results: There was no significant difference in BAL fluid MMP-7 levels between UIP and COP, although it was higher in both diseases compared to normal control subjects. Furthermore, the pattern and the degree of MMP-7 expression in lung tissues were also similar in both IPF and COP, whereas MMP-2 level was higher in COP and MMP-9 level was higher in IPF.
Conclusion: MMP-7 seems to play an important role in the pathogenesis of not only IPF but also COP; therefore, it may not be the key factor determining the prognosis or reversibility of IIPs.