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A major histopathological abnormality in cutis laxa (CL) is a paucity of elastic structures. The aim of this study was to investigate the gene expression levels of the major matrix degrading factors matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) 1, MMP-2, MMP-3 and MMP-9 in CL. The gene expression levels of MMP-1, MMP-2, MMP-3 and MMP-9 in cultured CL fibroblasts were measured by northern blot, immunoblot and gelatin zymographic analysis. Markedly increased mRNA levels of MMP-1 (8.4-fold), MMP-3 (7.2-fold) and MMP-9 (more than 10-fold) were found in CL fibroblasts, whereas MMP-2 mRNA levels in these fibroblasts were unaltered. Increased protein production levels of MMP-1 (4.6-fold) and MMP-3 (5.1-fold) in CL fibroblasts were shown by immunoblot analysis. On gelatin zymographic analysis, the gelatinolytic activities of MMP-9 but not of MMP-2 were increased (2.2-fold). These results suggest that increased gene expression levels of MMP-1, MMP-3 and MMP-9 in CL fibroblasts may contribute to the histopathological abnormality in CL.