The Role of Matrix Metalloproteinases in the Progression and Vulnerabilization of Coronary Atherosclerotic Plaques

DOI: 10.2478/jce-2021-0001


Extracellular matrix (ECM) plays an important role in the development and progression of atherosclerotic lesions. Changes in the ECM are involved in the pathophysiology of many cardiovascular diseases, including atherosclerosis. Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are a family of zinc-dependent proteases, also known as matrixins, with proteolytic activity in the ECM, being responsible for the process of tissue remodeling in various systemic pathologies, including cardiac and vascular diseases. MMPs play an important role in maintaining normal vascular structure, but also in secondary cardiovascular remodeling, in the formation of atherosclerotic plaques and in their vulnerabilization process. In addition to the assigned effect of MMPs in vulnerable plaques, they have a well-defined role in post-infarction ventricular remodeling and in various types of cardiomyopathies, followed by onset of congestive heart failure, with repeated hospitalizations and death. The aim of this manuscript was to provide a summary on the role of serum matrix metalloproteinases in the process of initiation, progression and complication of atherosclerotic lesions, from a molecular level to clinical applicability and risk prediction in patients with vulnerable coronary plaques.