Differential induction of human beta-defensin expression by periodontal commensals and pathogens in periodontal pocket epithelial cells

J Periodontol. 2005 Aug;76(8):1293-303. doi: 10.1902/jop.2005.76.8.1293.


Background: To investigate the possible role of beta-defensins in gingival health and periodontal disease, we examined the effect of several stimuli on the expression of interleukin-8 (IL-8), human beta-defensin-1, -2, -3, and -4 (hBD) in primary human diseased gingival epithelial (HGE) cell cultures from periodontitis patients by quantitative TaqMan reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).

Methods: Several strains of the periodontopathogens Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans and Porphyromonas gingivalis were added to the cells, as well as the oral commensal bacteria Fusobacterium nucleatum and Escherichia coli. The induction by the proinflammatory stimuli phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) was also tested.

Results: In addition to the published observations (PMA induces hBD-2 and -4; TNF-alpha induces hBD-2 and -3), it was found that PMA can upregulate hBD-1 and hBD-3, whereas TNF-alpha can induce hBD-4. The commensal bacteria were significant inducers of hBD-2, hBD-3, and IL-8. The pathogen P. gingivalis induced hBD-1 and hBD-3 at different time points than the commensals, but no induction of IL-8 and hBD-2 could be observed. These data fit with the chemokine paralysis theory. A correlation was found between the pathogenicity of different serotypes of A. actinomycetemcomitans and the induction profiles of defensins and IL-8.

Conclusion: The results suggest that a correlation can be found in diseased oral epithelium between the defensin profiles that are induced and the pathogenicity of the oral bacterial strains.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans / pathogenicity*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Epithelial Cells / microbiology
  • Escherichia coli / pathogenicity
  • Fusobacterium nucleatum / pathogenicity
  • Gene Expression / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Inflammation Mediators / pharmacology
  • Interleukin-8 / biosynthesis
  • Periodontal Pocket / metabolism*
  • Periodontal Pocket / microbiology*
  • Periodontal Pocket / pathology
  • Porphyromonas gingivalis / pathogenicity*
  • Protein Biosynthesis / drug effects
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Tetradecanoylphorbol Acetate / pharmacology
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / pharmacology
  • Up-Regulation
  • beta-Defensins / biosynthesis*


  • Inflammation Mediators
  • Interleukin-8
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • beta-Defensins
  • Tetradecanoylphorbol Acetate