Matrix Metalloproteinases and Other Matrix Proteinases in Relation to Cariology: The Era of ‘Dentin Degradomics'

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Dentin organic matrix, with type I collagen as the main component, is exposed after demineralization in dentinal caries, erosion or acidic conditioning during adhesive composite restorative treatment. This exposed matrix is prone to slow hydrolytic degradation by host collagenolytic enzymes, matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and cysteine cathepsins. Here we review the recent findings demonstrating that inhibition of salivary or dentin endogenous collagenolytic enzymes may provide preventive means against progression of caries or erosion, just as they have been shown to retain the integrity and improve the longevity of resin composite filling bonding to dentin. This paper also presents the case that the organic matrix in caries-affected dentin may not be preserved as intact as previously considered. In partially demineralized dentin, MMPs and cysteine cathepsins with the ability to cleave off the terminal non-helical ends of collagen molecules (telopeptides) may lead to the gradual loss of intramolecular gap areas. This would seriously compromise the matrix ability for intrafibrillar remineralization, which is considered essential in restoring the dentin's mechanical properties. More detailed data of the enzymes responsible and their detailed function in dentin-destructive conditions may not only help to find new and better preventive means, but better preservation of demineralized dentin collagenous matrix may also facilitate true biological remineralization for the better restoration of tooth structural and mechanical integrity and mechanical properties.

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