Background/aims: Smokers with persistent periodontitis may have granulocytes with impaired function. This study aimed to determine the levels of granulocyte elastase, matrix metalloproteinase-8 (MMP-8) and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) in gingival crevicular fluid (GCF) in smokers and non-smokers with persistent periodontitis.
Methods: We analyzed GCF from 70 matched sites in 29 periodontitis and 6 gingivitis sites in 34 subjects, 17 smokers, and 17 non-smokers. We also analyzed separately GCF from 28 of these subjects, 14 smokers and 14 non-smokers in 14 matched periodontitis sites. The following measurements were made: elastase complexed to alpha1-antitrypsin (EA-alpha1AT) and MMP-8 with ELISA, functional elastase with a chromogenic substrate, and PGE2 with radioimmunoassay (125I RIA). The significance of the findings was determined with Mann-Whitney test.
Results: In the 29 matched periodontitis sites, smokers had significantly more functional elastase (p<0.005) and more EA-alpha1AT (p<0.05) than non-smokers. In the 14 matched periodontitis sites in 14 smokers and 14 non-smokers, the former had significantly more functional elastase than the latter (p<0.001). A significant correlation was found between EA-alpha1AT and MMP-8 in smokers (p<0.05) and non-smokers (p<0.001) and a positive correlation between levels of functional elastase and MMP-8 in non-smokers (r2=0.98; p<0.001).
Conclusions: Granulocyte function seems to be impaired in smokers with persistent periodontitis. The cells react to the bacterial challenge by releasing serine proteases, which reflect the degradation of connective tissue. The risk of progression of the disease is therefore higher in smokers with persistent periodontitis than in non-smokers.