In various fibrotic diseases, matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and their natural inhibitors, the tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases (TIMPs), play an important role. In our study, serum concentrations of MMP-1, MMP-2, MMP-9, TIMP-1, and TIMP-2 were determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay in 17 female patients with Baker grade II (n =9), III (n =7), and IV (n =1) capsular contracture after bilateral cosmetic mamma augmentation with Trilucent implants (AEI, Inc., Caversham, United Kingdom). Samples of capsular tissue for standard histology and immunohistochemistry were obtained from all patients. Sera from 20 female patients who had plastic surgery for reduction mammaplasty were used as the control group. The aminoterminal propeptide of procollagen type III (PIIINP) and hyaluronan were analyzed as markers for fibrogenesis in both groups, too. Statistical analysis was performed using the Mann-Whitney test and Spearman rank correlation. Patients with capsular contracture presented significantly higher concentrations of TIMP-1 and TIMP-2 in their sera than did the control group (p < 0.05), which correlated with Baker grade (r2 = 0.7 versus r2 = 0.65; p < 0.05). The concentration of MMP-2 was significantly higher in the sera of patients with capsule fibrosis, whereas there were no significant differences in MMP-1, MMP-9, and PIIINP serum concentrations. Patients with capsule fibrosis had a significantly lower MMP-to-TIMP ratio (1.1 ±0.4, p <0.05) than the control group (1.5 ± 0.4), which correlated with the Baker classification (r2 =0.7; p <0.05). The hyaluronan serum concentration of patients with capsular contracture was significantly higher (p < 0.05) and correlated with the Baker grade (r2 = 0.73; p < 0.05), whereas PIIINP showed no difference. In the histologic evaluation, there was a chronic inflammatory reaction in the capsules around the breast implants and refracting material within the substance. Immunohistochemically, TIMP-1 and TIMP-2 showed an intensive accumulation, and MMP-2 showed a local reaction. PIIINP could be detected, too, whereas there was no staining for MMP-1 and MMP-9.
The elevated systemic MMP-2 concentration and the local positive staining in the tissue might be due to the chronic inflammatory reaction. Nevertheless, the balance between MMPs and their natural inhibitors is disturbed in patients with capsule contracture. The elevated systemic concentration of TIMPs might be a pathway in the pathogenesis of severe fibrosis after breast augmentation with alloplastic material. Hyaluronan might be a useful marker for early prediction of capsule fibrosis, whereas PIIINP is not useful as a predictor.