Interactions of cell with the extracellular matrix (ECM) are crucial for normal development and functioning of the human organism. By regulating ECM integrity and composition matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) play the main role in ECM molecules signaling and influence processes such as proliferation, migration, differentiation and apoptosis. ECM remodeling is a highly regulated process. When imbalanced it could contribute to pathophysiology of many diseases. The MMPs actions and activity are regulated through different mechanisms such as regulation of transcription, activation of latent MMPs, inhibition of MMP function by tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases. MMPs are a family of calcium- and zinc-dependent endoproteinase, which share similar structural domains, but differs in substrate specificity, cell localizations and inducibility. Genetic variations in MMPs have been associated with a number of diseases, still not all findings are reproducible. Nine of 23 human genes encoding MMPs are located in a cluster on chromosome 11, which implicate their haplotype-driven effects. They could be important mediators of disease severity and could trigger acute events. In this chapter, we will review the basics of MMP biology and the most significant associations of MMPs variations with cardiovascular and neurological diseases in humans and MMPs therapeutic potential through synthetic inhibitors.
Part of the book: The Role of Matrix Metalloproteinase in Human Body Pathologies