Expression of matrix metalloproteinases in articular cartilage of temporomandibular and knee joints of mice during growth, maturation, and aging




This study examined the involvement of different matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) in articular cartilage in the process of growth, maturation, and aging of mice, and compared the temporal changes in the expression of MMPs between temporomandibular joints (TMJ) and knee joints.


Homogenates of intact tibial plateau, femoral condyle, and TMJ condyle cartilages from animals of different ages were assessed for gelatinase (MMP-2 and MMP-9) activity by zymography. The messenger RNA (mRNA) expression of MMPs 1, 2, 3, 9, and 13 in tibial plateau cartilage was determined by semiquantitative reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction, and immunohistochemistry was used to localize MMPs 2, 3, 9, and 13 in the knee joints and TMJ from mice of different ages.


The pattern of gelatinase (MMP-2 and MMP-9) activity and their protein expression as well as that of MMPs 3 and 13 varied with the age of the mouse, and differences in expression were observed between the knee and TMJ cartilage. The expression of mRNA for the MMPs in the tibial plateau was also age related.


This study demonstrated changes in the protein and mRNA expression of MMPs 2, 9, 3, and 13 during growth, maturation, and aging in mice. The temporal changes were characteristic of the joint, and distinct differences were observed between the TMJ and knee cartilage. The differences in temporospatial expression of MMPs between the knee joint and TMJ may be the result of differences in load and function of these joints. The information provided in this study contributes to a better understanding of the role of these MMPs in the maintenance and integrity of cartilage tissue.