Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most prevalent type of dementia. Pathological changes in the AD brain include amyloid-beta (Abeta) plaques and neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs), as well as neuronal death and synaptic loss. Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) play an important role as inflammatory components in the pathogenesis of AD. MMP-2 might be assumed to have a protective role in AD and is the major MMP which is directly linked to Abeta in the brain. Synthesis of MMP-9 can be induced by Abeta, and the enzymes appear to exert multiple effects in AD in senile plaque homoeostasis. The proaggregatory influence on tau oligomer formation in strategic brain regions may be a potential neurotoxic side effect of MMP-9. MMP-3 levels are correlated to the duration of AD and correlate with the CSF T-tau and P-tau levels in the elderly controls. Elevated brain levels of MMP-3 might result in increased MMP-9 activity and indirectly facilitate tau aggregation. At present, the clinical utility of these proteins, particularly in plasma or serum, as potential early diagnostic biomarkers for AD remains to be established. More research is needed to understand the diverse roles of these proteases to design specific drugs and devise therapeutic strategies for AD.
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