Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

OBJECTIVES: Imbalance of matrix metalloproteinase enzymes (MMP) and their inhibitors (TIMPs) may contribute to the development of varicose veins. We hypothesised that, histological changes in varicose vein wall correlate with alterations in expression of MMP/TIMP. METHODS: Varicose veins (n=26) were compared with great saphenous vein (GSV) segments (n=11) from arterial bypass, and with arm and neck veins from fistula and carotid operations (n=13). Varicose vein wall thickness was measured, enabling categorisation as atrophic and hypertrophic. MMP-2, MT1-MMP, TIMP-2, and TIMP-3 expression were quantitatively analysed by immunohistochemistry. RESULTS: There was significantly higher expression of TIMP-2 (immunopositive area 4.34% versus 0.26%), linked with connective tissue accumulation in the tunica media of varicose veins as compared with arm and neck vein controls. TIMP-2 and TIMP-3 expression was higher in hypertrophic than atrophic segments (3.2% versus 0.99% for TIMP-2, 1.7% versus 0.08% for TIMP-3). Similarly, TIMP-2 and TIMP-3 had elevated expression in the thicker proximal varicose vein segments compared to distal (4.3% versus 1.3% for TIMP-2 and 0.94% versus 0.41% for TIMP-3). CONCLUSIONS: This study linked morphological changes in varicose vein walls with MMP/TIMP balance. A higher TIMP expression favours deposition of connective tissue and thus thicker vein wall, reducing matrix turnover by suppression of protease activity.

Original publication




Journal article


Eur J Vasc Endovasc Surg

Publication Date





754 - 765


Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Atrophy, Case-Control Studies, Connective Tissue, Cross-Sectional Studies, Female, Humans, Hypertrophy, Immunohistochemistry, London, Male, Matrix Metalloproteinase 14, Matrix Metalloproteinase 2, Middle Aged, Tissue Inhibitor of Metalloproteinase-2, Tissue Inhibitor of Metalloproteinase-3, Tunica Media, Varicose Veins, Veins, Young Adult