We have postulated that an insufficient active of collagenase relative to increased collagen synthesis may be the cause of the increased collagen accumulation in fibrotic tissues. In the present study, 125I-collagenase and rabbit anti-collagenase immunoglobulin G were used to develop a sensitive radioimmunoassay that detects 0.1 nM (3 ng) of collagenase protein in tissue samples. The assay also can detect collagenase protein that is associated with extracellular-matrix collagen fibrils. Good correlation with an assay of enzyme activity validates the radioimmunoassay for quantification of collagenase. The assay was used to measure amounts of collagenase in relation to fibrotic processes in livers of mice with schistosomiasis. Results indicate that the amounts of collagenase relative to synthesized collagens were significantly lower, and this may contribute to the progressive fibrosis. The occurrence of a maximum amount of collagenase at 7 weeks after infection with Schistosoma mansoni cercariae in concanavalin A-treated animals, as compared with 8 weeks in controls, could account for the large remission of fibrosis in mice so treated. The results emphasize the possible importance of collagenase in controlling or limiting fibrosis.
- © 1984 London: The Biochemical Society