Horse Health

Diagnostic biomarker: MMP-9

For many years, Dr. Ina Richter's group has been working on matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP-9). MMP-9 is an important diagnostic biomarker in equine degenerative diseases (Barnewitz et al., 2015; Lerchbacher-Hieslmayr et al., 2018).

In recent years, a horse-specific enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and a lateral flow rapid test have been developed in market-oriented research projects to enable faster and more effective diagnostics.

Both tests are routinely used to examine synovial samples as well as to evaluate vitreous fluid from horses treated at the fzmb GmbH veterinary clinic.

Research results in recent years show that MMP-9 may also be promising as a therapeutic target. For example, equine corneal fibrosis has been shown to involve MMP-9 (Donnelly et al., 2014), which can be influenced by its inhibition.

This suggests that local neutralization of overexpressed MMP-9 could intervene in the course of the disease in a way that promotes healing.

It has also been shown in equine sarcoid, a semimalignant skin tumor of the horse, that increased expression of MMP can lead to neoplastic transformation during wound healing (Martano et al., 2016).

These studies suggest that targeted inhibition of MMP-9, could be a very promising therapeutic approach also for the treatment of equine sarcoid.


  • Barnewitz, D., E. Karakine, I.-G. Richter, and J. Lerchbacher. 2015. On the importance of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) 9 in lameness diagnostics. The Practical Veterinarian. 11-2015:1124 et seq.
  • Lerchbacher-Hieslmayr, J., I.-G. Richter, V. Häussler, C. Bräunig, and D. Barnewitz. 2018. matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-9 facilitates diagnostics in equine degenerative joint disease and may serve as osteoarthritis biomarker in horses. Equine Medicine Equine Medicine. 34:563-573.
  • Donnelly, K.S., E.A. Giuliano, A. Sharm, and R.R. Mohan. 2014. Suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid (vorinostat): its role on equine corneal fibrosis and matrix metalloproteinase activity. Vet Ophthalmol. 17 Suppl 1:61-68.
  • Martano, M., A. Corteggio, B. Restucci, M.E. De Biase, G. Borzacchiello, and P. Maiolino. 2016. Extracellular matrix remodeling in equine sarcoid: an immunohistochemical and molecular study. BMC Vet Res. 12:24.