Extracellular matrix formation is the major component of the restenosis lesion that develops after balloon angioplasty. Although ex vivo studies have shown that the synthesis of collagen is stimulated early after balloon angioplasty, there is a delay in accumulation in the vessel wall. The objectives of this study were to assess collagen turnover and its possible regulation by matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) in a double-injury iliac artery rabbit model of restenosis. Rabbits were killed at four time points (immediately and at 1, 4, and 12 weeks) after balloon angioplasty. In vivo collagen synthesis and collagen degradation were measured after a 24-hour incubation with [ 14 C]proline. Arterial extracts were also run on gelatin zymograms to determine MMP (gelatinase) activity. Collagen turnover studies were repeated in a group of 1-week postangioplasty rabbits that were treated with daily subcutaneous injections of either a nonspecific MMP inhibitor, GM6001 (100 mg/kg per day), or placebo. Collagen synthesis and degradation showed similar temporal profiles, with significant increases in the balloon-injured iliac arteries compared with control nondilated contralateral iliac arteries immediately after angioplasty and at 1 and 4 weeks. Peak collagen synthesis and degradation occurred at 1 week and were increased (approximately four and three times control values, respectively). Gelatin zymography was consistent with the biochemical data by showing an increase of a 72-kD gelatinase (MMP-2) in the balloon-injured side immediately after the second injury, peaking at 1 week, and still detectable at 4 and 12 weeks (although at lower levels). In balloon-injured arteries, the MMP inhibitor reduced both collagen synthesis and degradation. Overall, at 1 week after balloon angioplasty, GM6001 resulted in a 33% reduction in collagen content in balloon-injured arteries compared with placebo (750±143 to 500±78 μg hydroxyproline per segment,
P<.004), which was associated with a nonsignificant 25% reduction in intimal area. Our data suggest that degradation of newly synthesized collagen is an important mechanism regulating collagen accumulation and that MMPs have an integral role in collagen turnover after balloon angioplasty.