Background: Nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF) occurs in patients with renal dysfunction and gadolinium exposure. Although little is known about the pathogenesis of this disease, increased expression of transforming growth factor-β has been recently demonstrated. Other fibrosing conditions have been shown to express an imbalance in matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) expression and their corresponding inhibitors. Myofibroblast differentiation, in which cells often express α-smooth muscle actin and achieve the ability to contract, is also a hallmark of fibrosis. Objective: We theorized that NSF may overexpress tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-1 (TIMP-1), while simultaneously showing decreased expression of MMP-1. As a secondary aim, we sought to evaluate the presence of smooth muscle actin in our samples. Methods: We applied immunohistochemistry to 16 skin biopsies from 10 patients with NSF using antibodies to TIMP-1, MMP-1, MMP-2, MMP-9, and α-smooth muscle actin. Samples from normal skin, scar, keloid and scleroderma were stained for comparison. Results: TIMP-1 was strongly expressed in all NSF specimens compared to normal skin. MMP-1 expression was nearly absent in all tested samples. In all 16 NSF cases, the dermal spindle cells did not stain for α-smooth muscle actin. MMP-2 and MMP-9 expression was variable but was increased compared to normal skin. Limitations: The expression is semiquantitative and based on immunohistochemistry and unconfirmed by other techniques. Conclusions: In NSF, TIMP-1 is strongly expressed and MMP-1 is nearly absent, characteristic of the MMP imbalances seen in other fibrosing processes. Using smooth muscle actin immunohistochemistry, there was no evidence of myofibroblast differentiation.
- Matrix metalloproteinase
- Nephrogenic fibrosing dermopathy
- Nephrogenic systemic fibrosis
- Smooth muscle actin
- Tissue inhibitor of matrix metalloproteinase
- Transforming growth factor
ASJC Scopus subject areas