Christoffersson G, Waldén T, Sandberg M, Opdenakker G, Carlsson PO, Phillipson M
Am. J. Pathol. 185 (4) 1094-1103 [2015-04-00; online 2015-02-07]
The availability of paracrine factors in the islets of Langerhans, and the constitution of the beta cell basement membrane can both be affected by proteolytic enzymes. This study aimed to investigate the effects of the extracellular matrix-degrading enzyme gelatinase B/matrix metalloproteinase-9 (Mmp-9) on islet function in mice. Islet function of Mmp9-deficient (Mmp9(-/-)) mice and their wild-type littermates was evaluated both in vivo and in vitro. The pancreata of Mmp9(-/-) mice did not differ from wild type in islet mass or distribution. However, Mmp9(-/-) mice had an impaired response to a glucose load in vivo, with lower serum insulin levels. The glucose-stimulated insulin secretion was reduced also in vitro in isolated Mmp9(-/-) islets. The vascular density of Mmp9(-/-) islets was lower, and the capillaries had fewer fenestrations, whereas the islet blood flow was threefold higher. These alterations could partly be explained by compensatory changes in the expression of matrix-related proteins. This in-depth investigation of the effects of the loss of MMP-9 function on pancreatic islets uncovers a deteriorated beta cell function that is primarily due to a shift in the beta cell phenotype, but also due to islet vascular aberrations. This likely reflects the importance of a normal islet matrix turnover exerted by MMP-9, and concomitant release of paracrine factors sequestered on the matrix.