Background: Acute aortic dissection (AAD) is a life-threatening emergency. Patients with AAD who have abdominal pain are easily confused with patients with surgical acute abdomen. Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) play an important role in the pathophysiology of AAD. This study was undertaken to compare serum MMP-9 levels in patients with acute abdomen and those with AAD presenting as abdominal pain in the emergency department.
Methods: Blood samples were collected within 1 h and 24 h after admission to the emergency department. Serum levels of MMP-9, lipoprotein (a) (LP(a)) and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) were measured in 20 healthy controls, 20 patients with acute pancreatitis, 20 with other acute abdomen and 20 patients with AAD with abdominal pain by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and immunoturbidimetric assay, respectively.
Results: Serum MMP-9, LP(a) and hsCRP levels were significantly higher in the three groups of patients than in the healthy controls, with no significant fluctuation within 24 h of admission in any group. Mean serum MMP-9 levels in patients with acute pancreatitis (768 (95% CI 651 to 885) ng/ml within 1 h; 708 (95% CI 677 to 740) ng/ml at 24 h) were significantly higher than in patients with other acute abdomen (244 (95% CI 182 to 266) ng/ml within 1 h; 259 (95% CI 219 to 299) ng/ml at 24 h) and lower than in patients with AAD (1052 (95% CI 921 to 1183) ng/ml at 1 h; 1107 (95% CI 973 to 1241) ng/ml at 24 h) (all p<0.05). No significant difference was detected in serum LP(a) and hsCRP levels among the three groups of patients.
Conclusions: Patients with AAD who have abdominal pain have significantly higher serum MMP-9 levels than patients with surgical acute abdomen.
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Funding This study has been supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Project 30500209) and the Program for New Century Excellent Talents in University (Project NCET-06-0684).
Competing interests None.
Ethics approval The research protocol was approved by the Ethics Committee of Central South University and all subjects gave fully informed consent before study entry.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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