Objective - To examine in vitro effects of various antiproteolytic compounds on activity of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-2 and -9 in the tear film of horses with active corneal ulcers. Sample Population - Samples of tear film obtained from the eyes of 34 horses with active ulcerative keratitis. Procedure - Horses were sedated, and tear samples were collected from the lower fornix of 34 ulcerated eyes by use of capillary tubes. The protease inhibitors 0.2% EDTA, 0.1% doxycycline, 10% N-acetylcysteine (NAC), 0.1% solution of a modified dipeptide that contains hydroxamic acid (ie, ilomostat), 0.1% α1-proteinase inhibitor (PI), 0.5% α1-PI, and 100% fresh equine serum (ES) were used to treat pooled samples. Amount of latent and active MMP-2 and -9 was measured by optical density scanning of gelatin zymograms of treated and untreated tear samples. Results - Pooled tear samples obtained from ulcerated eyes contained the latent and active forms of MMP-2 and -9. Compared with MMP activity in untreated samples, total MMP activity (sum of all bands detected) observed on the gelatin zymogram gels was reduced by 99.4% by EDTA, 96.3% by doxycycline, 98.8% by NAC, 98.9% by ilomostat, 52.4% by 0.1% α1-PI, 93.6% by 0.5% α1-PI, and 90.0% by ES. Conclusions and Clinical Relevance - We documented that EDTA, doxycycline, NAC, ilomostat, α1-PI, and ES inhibited MMP activity in vitro. Because these compounds use different mechanisms to inhibit various families of proteases in the tear film of horses, a combination of these protease inhibitors may be beneficial for treatment of corneal ulcers in horses.
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