Salivary antimicrobial defensins in pregnancy

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Susceptibility to and severity of gingival inflammation are enhanced during pregnancy; however, regulation of oral innate immune response, including antimicrobial peptides, during pregnancy is still unknown. We analysed salivary levels of human beta-defensin (hBD)-1, -2, -3, and human neutrophil peptide (HNP)-1 in pregnant women, and related those to their periodontal status.

Material and Methods:

In this cohort study, 30 generally healthy, non-smoking Caucasian women without periodontitis were followed at three time points during pregnancy and twice post-partum. The non-pregnant group consisted of 24 women, who were examined three times at the following months. At each visit, periodontal status was recorded and stimulated saliva samples were collected. Salivary estradiol, progesterone, and defensin concentrations were measured by ELISA assays.


After adjusting for visible plaque and gingival bleeding, reduced salivary concentrations of hBD-1, hBD-2, and HNP-1 were found especially during the third trimester, whereas hBD-3 concentrations did not change during pregnancy and post-partum visits. Weak associations were observed between salivary defensin and hormone concentrations and clinical parameters.


There seems to be an independent regulation cascade for each antimicrobial defensin in the oral cavity during pregnancy, despite of the similarities between these antimicrobial peptides.

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