Differential MMP 1 and MMP 13 expression in proliferation and ligamentization phases of graft remodeling in anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction

Patrick Shu Hang Yung, Yuk Wa Lee, Sai Chuen Fu, Chih Hwa Chen, Christer G. Rolf, Kai Ming Chan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Graft remodeling in anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR) demonstrates three distinct phases: necrosis, proliferation and ligamentization. Biological enhancement involves modulating these processes, but the cellular activities related to extracellular matrix remodeling have not been investigated. We hypothesized that changes in matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) 1 and 13 expression are involved in the transition of proliferation phase to ligamentization phase of graft remodeling. Materials and methods: Thirty-three rats underwent ACLR. Tendon grafts were harvested at week 1 (necrosis), 2 (proliferation), or 12 (ligamentization) post-operation for histological examination (n = 3), or for isolation of graft-derived cells (n = 8) for flow cytometry, proliferation assay, cell invasion assay, measurement of gene expression related to matrix remodeling (Col1A1, Col3A1, MMP1, tissue inhibitor of marix metalloproteinase 1 (TIMP1), and MMP13) and total MMP activities. Results: Increased cellularity in tendon graft was contributed by active cell proliferation and migration at week 2 post-operation, while decreased cellularity were paralleled by increased apoptosis at week 12. All genes measured (Col1A1, Col3A1, MMP1, TIMP1, and MMP13) increased significantly in week 2 cells compared to week 1 cells. MMP1 expression subsided at week 12, while MMP13 expression kept increasing till 12 weeks post-operation. Total MMP activities was 3-fold higher in cultured graft-derived cells from week 2 as compared to cells from week 12. Two distinct processes of graft remodeling were identified, characterized by increased MMP1 expression with cell proliferation and increased MMP13 expression with cell apoptosis. Conclusions: Unfavorable matrix remodeling during the proliferation phase is found with increased MMP1, while remodeling leading to ligamentization is associated with increased MMP13 expression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)681-688
Number of pages8
JournalConnective Tissue Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction
  • cells
  • graft remodeling
  • matrix metalloproteinase
  • rat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology
  • Biochemistry
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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