Background: Matrix metalloproteases (MMP) and α-fetoproteins (AFP) are involved in hepatitis B virus (HBV)-induced chronic hepatitis. In the present study, we have determined the correlation between the MMP-9/MMP-9 ratio and AFP levels in the serum of patients during chronic viral B hepatitis.
Methods: Twenty-eight healthy individuals (18 men and 10 women) with a mean age of 36.3 years (range 23–58 years) and 50 patients (42 men, 8 women) with a mean age of 39.7 years (range 22–61 years) participated in the study. Forty-eight participants had HBV and the remaining two were either hepatitis G virus (HGV) or hepatitis C virus (HCV) carriers. Values of patients were compared with those obtained from 12 blood donor controls (5 men, 7 women), mean age 36 years (range 21–46 years). Patient's sera were subjected to examination of hepatitis B surface (HBs) and hepatitis B early (Hbe) antigen, SGOT, SGPT, AFP, MMP-2 and MMP-9. Serum levels of MMP-2 and MMP-9 activities were measured by a zymogram protease assay and densitometric measurement. The ratios of MMP-9 to MMP-2 were calculated by dividing the densitometric results.
Results: Compared with the healthy controls, the mean serum concentrations of MMP-2 were slightly increased in the chronic HBV patients. In contrast, compared with the healthy controls, the mean serum concentrations of MMP-9 were significantly increased in the chronic HBV patients. When the ratios of the MMP-9/MMP-2 and amounts of the serum AFP were compared, a specific correlation between these two parameters was observed. Higher amounts of AFP were detected in the patients with a low ratio of MMP-9/MMP-2. Patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and cirrhosis showed relatively low MMP-9/MMP-2 ratios in chronic hepatitis B. In addition, AFP levels of HCC and cirrhosis were higher than in chronic HBV patients.
Conclusions: These results indicate that the AFP level and ratio of MMP-9 and MMP-2 is highly correlated in chronic HBV-induced hepatitis. Because the serum MMP activities were significantly varied between each stage of AFP production in liver disease, an individual profile of these parameters might serve as an easy accessing serum marker to monitor the progression of liver disease.