Diabetic foot ulcers (DFUs) are a common complication of diabetes that are recalcitrant to healing due to persistent inflammation. The majority of DFUs have bacterial biofilms, with Staphylococcus epidermidis as a predominant bacterium, requiring infection control with antibiotics before treatment of the wound. Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) play roles in the pathology and repair of DFUs. However, defining the roles of the 24 human MMPs has been challenging due to the presence of three forms for each MMP, of which only one is catalytically competent, and the lack of convenient methods to distinguish among the three forms of MMPs. Using an affinity resin that binds only to the active forms of MMPs, with identification and quantification by mass spectrometry, we found that infected wounds in mice had increased levels of active MMP-9 compared to uninfected ones, paralleling infected human DFUs. MMP-9 activity prevents diabetic wounds from healing. We evaluated the efficacy of the selective small-molecule MMP-9 inhibitor, ®-ND-336, in the infected diabetic mouse model of wound healing and showed that ®-ND-336 alone or in combination with the antibiotic linezolid improves wound healing by inhibiting the detrimental MMP-9, mitigating macrophage infiltration to diminish inflammation, and increasing angiogenesis to restore the normal wound healing process. An advantage of this strategy is the ability to administer ®-ND-336 concurrently with an antibiotic.
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