Junctional Epithelium in Rats Is Characterized by Slow Cell Proliferation

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The integrity of junctional epithelium (JE) and a firm epithelial adhesion to the tooth surface are maintained by the balance between cell proliferation and cell death. Maintaining the JE structure is essential for the protection of periodontal connective tissues against oral microbes. In this study, the proliferative activity and the expression of caspase 3, a cysteine protease associated with cell death, were studied in rat JE and other epithelial structures during molar tooth development.


Fourteen rats aged 10 to 70 days were injected with bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU). Samples of first and second molars were selected for immunohistochemical staining. BrdU incorporation was studied in oral epithelium (OE) covering the erupting tooth, reduced enamel epithelium(REE), and gingival epithelium (GE), sulcular epithelium (SE), and JE. Samples were also subjected to immunohistochemical analysis for proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) and caspase 3.


The basal cells of theGEwere actively proliferating, but in the JE, only a few cells were positive for BrdU or PCNA immunostaining. Some outer REE cells were proliferating during tooth eruption. Caspase 3 expression was in specific areas of REE after completion of amelogenesis.


Results showed slow proliferative activity in the rat JE. However, specific studies on cellular turnover and cell migration are needed to understand tissue homeostasis in this area. J Periodontol 2006;77:840-846.

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