Expression of antimicrobial peptides and interleukin-8 during early stages of inflammation: An experimental gingivitis study

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Background and Objectives:

In the oral cavity, the epithelial surface is constantly exposed to a number of different microorganisms that are organized in a well-structured biofilm. The aim of this study was to monitor gingival expression of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) and interleukin-8 (IL-8) in an early gingivitis model.

Material and Methods:

Experimental gingivitis was allowed to develop in healthy volunteers (n = 17). Bleeding on probing (BOP%) and gingival crevicular fluid volume (GCF) were assessed at baseline and day 1, 3, 5, 7 and 14. Expression of AMPs (human beta-defensin-2, hBD-2; CC-chemokine ligand 20, CCL20; psoriasin, pso/S100A7) and IL-8 was analyzed by immunohistochemistry in gingival biopsies. In addition, hBD-2 and IL-8 protein expression was monitored in GCF using the ELISA technology.


Experimental gingivitis gradually developed with an increase in BOP scores and GCF volume over time. In GCF, elevated concentrations of hBD-2 and IL-8 were monitored at day 1, 5 and 7 (p ≤ 0.0002). Immunohistochemical analysis of gingival sections demonstrated increased staining for hBD-2 at day 3, whereas the CCL20, pso/S100A7, and IL-8 expression was increased at later time points (p < 0.05).


For the first time, this study showed the time-dependent regulation of AMPs, following clinical signs of experimentally induced gingival inflammation. Differential temporal expression for AMPs may ensure a constant antimicrobial activity against changes in the bacterial composition of the growing dental biofilm.

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