Regulation of the balance of matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2) and its tissue inhibitor (TIMP-2) by thioredoxin (Trx) was investigated in human dermal fibroblasts. Expression and secretion of Trx and Trx reductase 1 (TR 1) was increased after ultraviolet (UV) A irradiation. A significant increase in proMMP-2 activity and a decrease of TIMP-2 activity in supernatants of UVA-irradiated fibroblasts were observed in gelatin and reverse zymography compared to non-irradiated fibroblasts. Removal of Trx or TR1 by immunoprecipitation diminished these changes in proMMP-2 activity. Incubation with 5,5'-dithio-bis-2-nitrobenzoic acid (DTNB) also suppressed these changes. Incubation with recombinant Trx or TR decreased TIMP-2 activity and increased MMP-2 activity. UVA-irradiated fibroblasts, transiently transfected with a dominant-negative mutant or wild-type Trx, showed down- or upregulation of proMMP-2 activities, respectively, without significant change of protein amount. In conclusion, thioredoxin secreted by UVA irradiation is involved in the regulation of MMP-2 and TIMP-2 activities through its redox activity in human dermal fibroblasts. (C) 2003 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.