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Chronic periodontitis is a destructive inflammatory disease linked with unbalanced production between matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), such as interstitial collagenase (MMP-1) and stromelysin-1 (MMP-3) and their endogenous tissue inhibitors of MMPs (TIMPs). In addition to aberrant MMP-1 and MMP-3 expression, periodontal lesions are characterized by dense infiltrations of activated T lymphocytes which may interact with CD40-expressing gingival fibroblasts in the connective tissue via the CD40L-CD40 pathway. In this study we investigated whether CD40 cross-linking influenced MMP production by gingival fibroblasts. Therefore, we analysed the CD40L-induced MMP production by these fibroblasts in the presence of cytokines that are increased in periodontal lesions, such as IL-1β, tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) and interferon-gamma (IFN-γ). We show that CD40 ligation on gingival fibroblasts resulted in a decrease of their MMP-1 and MMP-3 production, while MMP-2 and TIMP-1 production were unaffected as determined by Western blot. This down-regulatory effect of CD40 engagement on MMP-1 and MMP-3 production by gingival fibroblasts was also present when MMP production was up-regulated by IL-1β and TNF-α or down-regulated by IFN-γ. These results suggest that CD40 ligation on gingival fibroblasts leads to a restraining of MMP-1 and MMP-3 production by gingival fibroblasts and thereby may be an important mechanism in the retardation of further periodontal tissue damage.