Internal derangement (ID) is among the most common disorders of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Previous research by our group highlighted a correlation between apoptosis and TMJ ID. Metalloproteinases (MMP)-7 and -9 have been shown to play an important role in extracellular matrix ECM) homeostasis and, through it, in joint disc remodelling. The immunohistochemical expression of MMP-7 and -9 was investigated in discs from patients with TMJ ID and from healthy donors and compared with the degree of histological tissue degeneration. The collagen fibre arrangement in pathological discs exhibited varying degrees of disruption. New vessels were consistently detected; endothelial cells from these vessels were immunolabelled with both MMP-7 and MMP-9. More or less intense MMP-7 and MMP-9 immunolabelling was detected in the cytoplasm of disc cells from all patients. MMP-7 and MMP-9 immunostaining was significantly different between pathological and normal discs and correlated with the extent of histopathological degeneration. MMP-7 and MMP-9 upregulation in discs from patients with TMJ ID demonstrates their involvement in disc damage in this disorder. A greater understanding of these processes could help identify ways to curb MMP overproduction without affecting their tissue remodelling action. The design of specific inhibitors for these MMPs would not only help to gain insights into the biological roles of MMPs, but would also aid in developing therapeutic interventions for diseases associated with abnormal ECM degradation.
MMP-7, MMP-9 temporomandibular joint disc, internal derangement.