Background: Thromboangiitis obliterans (TAO), or Buerger’s disease, is an inflammatory
occlusive disorder that affects the limb arteries of young smokers. In the aetiology of TAO the immune
system appears to play a critical role; however, information on the aspects involved in the evolution of
vascular tissue inflammation and of this disease are still limited.
Objective: This study was carried out to investigate HMGB-1 (high mobility group box-1), MMP (matrix metalloproteinase)-
2, MMP-9, MMP-11 and ICAM (intercellular adhesion molecule)-1 circulating levels in subjects with Buerger’s disease.
Methods: Between January 2010 and December 2012, eight patients underwent surgical revascularization of the lower
limbs and a specimen of the affected arterial wall was obtained for histological confirmation of Buerger’s disease. A
blood sample was collected on the same day for measuring HMGB-1, MMP-3, MMP-9 and ICAM-1 by western blot
analysis. Controls (n=7) were healthy non-smokers.
Results: TAO subjects had a significant increase in HMGB-1, MMP-9 and ICAM-1 compared with controls (P<.0001),
while no differences were observed in MMP-2 and MMP-11 levels. Histology confirmed a strong inflammatory infiltrate
with signs of necrosis in the arterial wall.
Conclusion: These data suggest a role for HMGB -1 in the vascular lesions associated with TAO, unveiling HMGB-1 as a
potential target for treating this rare disease.