Enterococcus faecalisimmunoregulates osteoclastogenesis of macrophages

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Persistent apical periodontitis (PAP) is characterized by refractory inflammation and progressive bone destruction. Enterococcus faecalis infection is considered an important etiological factor for the development of PAP, although the exact mechanisms remain unknown. This study aimed at investigating the role of E. faecalis in cell proliferation, inflammatory reactions and osteoclast differentiation of macrophages using an in vitro infection model of osteoclast precursor RAW264.7 cells. A cell viability assay of cultured RAW264.7 cells exposed to live E. faecalis at a multiplicity of infection of 100 for 2 h, indicated that the infection exhibited no cytotoxic effect. Transmission electron microscopy images revealed no apoptotic changes but a rise of metabolic activity and phagocytic features in the infected RAW264.7 cells. Confocal laser scanning microscopic and flow cytometric analysis indicated that the phagocytosis of RAW264.7 cells was activated by E. faecalis infection. Furthermore, quantitative real-time PCR assays demonstrated that the expression of inflammatory cytokines was remarkably elevated in infected RAW264.7 cells. Differentiation of infected RAW264.7 cells into osteoclasts was remarkably attenuated, and expression of osteoclast marker genes as well as fusogenic genes significantly dropped. In summary, E. faecalis appears to attenuate osteoclastic differentiation of RAW264.7 precursor cells, rather stimulates them to function as macrophages.

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