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Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are involved in systemic inflammatory responses and organ failure. The aim of this study was to evaluate early circulating plasma levels of MMP‑2, MMP‑9 and their inhibitors TIMP‑1 and TIMP‑2 and their prognostic significance in critically ill patients on admission to the intensive care unit (ICU).
In a single center prospective study 120 consecutive patients (72.5% male, mean age 66.8 ± 13.3 years, mean simplified acute physiology score [SAPS II] score 52.9 ± 21.9) were enrolled on transfer to the ICU of a cardiology department. The most common underlying conditions were cardiac diseases (n = 42.5%), respiratory failure (n = 10.8%) and sepsis (n = 6.7%). Blood samples were taken within 12 h of ICU admission. The MMP‑2, MMP‑9, TIMP‑1 and TIMP‑2 levels in plasma were evaluated in terms of 30-day survival, underlying condition and clinical score.
On ICU admission 30-day survivors had significantly lower plasma MMP‑9 (odds ratio, OR 1.67 per 1 SD; 95% confidence interval, CI 1.10−2.53; p = 0.016) and TIMP‑1 (OR 2.15 per 1 SD; 95% CI 1.27−3.64; p = 0.004) levels than non-survivors; furthermore, MMP‑9 and TIMP‑1 correlated well with SAPS II (both p < 0.01). In patients with underlying cardiac diseases, MMP‑9 (p = 0.002) and TIMP‑1 (p = 0.01) were independent predictors of survival (Cox regression). No significant correlation was found between MMP‑2 and TIMP‑2 levels, MMP/TIMP ratios and 30-day mortality.
The MMP‑9 and TIMP‑1 levels are significantly elevated in acute critical care settings with increased short-term mortality risk, especially in patients with underlying heart disease. These findings support the value of MMPs and TIMPs as prognostic markers and potential therapeutic targets in conditions leading to systemic inflammation and acute organ failure.