PloS one

A new role for TIMP-1 in modulating neurite outgrowth and morphology of cortical neurons.

PMID 20011518


Tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases-1 (TIMP-1) displays pleiotropic activities, both dependent and independent of its inhibitory activity on matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). In the central nervous system (CNS), TIMP-1 is strongly upregulated in reactive astrocytes and cortical neurons following excitotoxic/inflammatory stimuli, but no information exists on its effects on growth and morphology of cortical neurons. We found that 24 h incubation with recombinant TIMP-1 induced a 35% reduction in neurite length and significantly increased growth cones size and the number of F-actin rich microprocesses. TIMP-1 mediated reduction in neurite length affected both dendrites and axons after 48 h treatment. The effects on neurite length and morphology were not elicited by a mutated form of TIMP-1 inactive against MMP-1, -2 and -3, and still inhibitory for MMP-9, but were mimicked by a broad spectrum MMP inhibitor. MMP-9 was poorly expressed in developing cortical neurons, unlike MMP-2 which was present in growth cones and whose selective inhibition caused neurite length reductions similar to those induced by TIMP-1. Moreover, TIMP-1 mediated changes in cytoskeleton reorganisation were not accompanied by modifications in the expression levels of actin, betaIII-tubulin, or microtubule assembly regulatory protein MAP2c. Transfection-mediated overexpression of TIMP-1 dramatically reduced neuritic arbour extension in the absence of detectable levels of released extracellular TIMP-1. Altogether, TIMP-1 emerges as a modulator of neuronal outgrowth and morphology in a paracrine and autrocrine manner through the inhibition, at least in part, of MMP-2 and not MMP-9. These findings may help us understand the role of the MMP/TIMP system in post-lesion pre-scarring conditions.