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Degradation of the extracellular matrix components elastin and collagen has been implicated in vascular diseases, including abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) and atherosclerotic plaque rupture. Increased expression of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) is involved in these disease processes. Our previous studies have demonstrated that MMP-2 derived from mesenchymal cells is required for aneurysm development in a murine model. Doxycycline is a nonspecific inhibitor of MMPs. In the present study, the mechanisms of the inhibitory effects of doxycycline on MMP-2 expression from cultured human aortic smooth muscle cells (SMCs) and human aortic aneurysm tissue explants were studied. Doxycycline inhibited MMP-2 expression from cultured SMCs in a concentration-dependent manner (5-40 microg/mL; inhibitory concentration of 50%, 6.5 microg/mL). At normal therapeutic serum concentration (5 microg/mL) doxycycline significantly reduced MMP-2 production from SMCs (37%; P <.05), which were stimulated with conditioned media from macrophage or lymphocyte co-culture simulating the inflammatory milieu of AAA tissue. This correlated with a decrease in MMP-2 mRNA half-life, from 49 hours to 28 hours, which suggests that doxycycline inhibits SMC MMP-2 production in part by reducing MMP-2 mRNA stability. When AAA tissue was cultured for 10 days with doxycycline at concentrations of 2.5 to 40 microg/mL, the media exhibited a concentration-dependent decrease in both active and latent forms of MMP-2 and MMP-9. Doxycycline at a concentration of 5 microg/mL reduced active and latent MMP-2 secreted from cultured AAA tissue by 50% and 30%, respectively (P <.05). These study findings demonstrate that doxycycline at standard therapeutic serum concentrations inhibits MMP-2 expression from cultured human aortic SMCs and AAA tissue explants. Inasmuch as MMP activity contributes to extracellular matrix degradation in AAAs and atherosclerotic plaque, doxycycline may have potential value in treating these diseases.

Original publication




Journal article


J vasc surg

Publication Date





1376 - 1383


Anti-Bacterial Agents, Aortic Aneurysm, Abdominal, Doxycycline, Gene Expression, Humans, In Vitro Techniques, Matrix Metalloproteinase 2, Matrix Metalloproteinase Inhibitors, Myocytes, Smooth Muscle