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Fluorometric immunocapture assay for the specific measurement of matrix metalloproteinase-9 activity in biological samples: application to brain and plasma from rats with ischemic stroke

Kimberly E Hawkins1, Kelly M DeMars1, Changjun Yang1, Gary A Rosenberg2 and Eduardo Candelario-Jalil1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Neuroscience, McKnight Brain Institute, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32610, USA

2 Department of Neurology, University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, Albuquerque, NM 87131, USA

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Molecular Brain 2013, 6:14  doi:10.1186/1756-6606-6-14

Published: 23 March 2013



Matrix metalloproteinases are important factors in the molecular mechanisms leading to neuronal injury in many neurological disorders. Matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-9 is up-regulated after cerebral ischemia and neuroinflammation and is actively involved in blood–brain barrier disruption. Current methods of measuring MMP-9 activity, such as gelatin-substrate zymography, are unspecific and arduous. Here we developed an immunocapture assay with high efficiency, specificity, and sensitivity for quantifying endogenously active as well as total MMP-9 activity.


A fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) peptide-based immunocapture assay was developed that enables the accurate assessment of total and active forms of MMP-9 in complex biological samples. The FRET assay demonstrated correct and efficient binding of MMP-9 to a mouse monoclonal MMP-9 antibody and high specificity of the immunocapture antibody for MMP-9. Total and active levels of MMP-9 were measured in rat brain homogenates, plasma, human HT-1080 conditioned media, and RBE4 endothelial cell lysates. The FRET immunocapture assay yielded highly similar results for total MMP-9 activity when compared to gelatin-substrate zymography.


We suggest that the new FRET peptide-based immunocapture assay is a viable replacement of zymography for sensitive and high throughput quantification of MMP-9 activity in biological samples.

Matrix metalloproteinase-9 activity; Fluorescence resonance energy transfer peptide; Immunocapture assay; Focal cerebral ischemia