PURPOSE: Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) have been implicated in atherosclerosis, and therefore, are considered risk factors for metabolic dysfunction in adults. However, there is little data on circulating levels of MMPs and tissue inhibitors of MMPs (TIMPs) with regard to obesity-related biomarkers in the general adolescent population. In the present study, we determined the associations of MMP-8, MMP-9, and TIMP-1 levels and MMP-8/TIMP-1 and MMP-9/TIMP-1 ratios with obesity-related biomarkers in apparently healthy adolescent boys. METHODS: We measured MMP and TIMP concentrations in plasma samples using the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and analyzed their associations with obesity-related biomarkers, such as liver enzymes and lipid profiles, in a sample of 91 Korean boys aged 13-14 years who participated in a general health check-up. RESULTS: The mean age of the boys was 13.8+/-0.3 years; 72 boys were normal weight and 19 were overweight/obese. The Pearson correlation coefficients revealed a significant correlation between MMP-8 and aspartate aminotransferase (r=0.217, P=0.039) and alanine aminotransferase (r=0.250, P=0.017) and between TIMP-1 and aspartate aminotransferase (r=0.267, P=0.011). In a multivariate linear regression analysis, serum alanine aminotransferase was positively associated with the MMP-8 level. There were no significant differences in the MMP-8, MMP-9, and TIMP-1 levels or MMP-8/TIMP-1 and MMP-9/TIMP-1 ratios between control and overweight/obese subjects. CONCLUSION: We found a significant association between the MMP-8 level and alanine aminotransferase in the apparently healthy adolescent boys. These findings indicate that there may be a pathophysiological mechanism underlying the relationship between MMP-8 and liver enzymes in young adolescents.