High concentration but low activity of hepatocyte growth factor in periodontitis

J Periodontol. 2014 Jan;85(1):113-22. doi: 10.1902/jop.2013.130003. Epub 2013 Apr 18.


Background: High levels of hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), a healing factor with regenerative and cytoprotective effects, are associated with inflammatory diseases, including periodontitis. HGF biologic activity requires binding to its receptors, the proto-oncogene c-Met and heparan sulfate proteoglycan (HSPG). This study investigates HGF expression and its relationship to subgingival microbiota in medically healthy individuals with and without periodontitis.

Methods: Saliva, gingival crevicular fluid (GCF), and blood samples from 30 patients with severe periodontitis and 30 healthy controls were analyzed for HGF concentration using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and binding affinity for HSPG and c-Met using surface plasmon resonance. The regenerative effects of saliva from three patients and controls were analyzed in an in vitro model of cell injury. Subgingival plaques were analyzed for the presence of 18 bacterial species.

Results: Patients with periodontitis showed higher HGF concentrations in saliva, GCF, and serum (P <0.001); however, the binding affinities for HSPG and c-Met were reduced in GCF and saliva (P <0.002). In contrast to the controls, saliva from patients showed no significant regenerative effect over time on gingival epithelial cells. Compared with controls, patients had a higher prevalence of periodontally related bacteria.

Conclusions: Higher circulatory HGF levels indicate a systemic effect of periodontitis. However, the HGF biologic activity at local inflammation sites was reduced, and this effect was associated with the amount of periodontal bacteria. Loss of function of healing factors may be an important mechanism in degenerative processes in periodontally susceptible individuals.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bacteria / classification
  • Bacterial Load
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Cell Movement / drug effects
  • Dental Plaque / microbiology
  • Epithelial Cells / drug effects
  • Female
  • Gingiva / microbiology
  • Gingival Crevicular Fluid / chemistry
  • Heparan Sulfate Proteoglycans / metabolism
  • Hepatocyte Growth Factor / analysis*
  • Hepatocyte Growth Factor / blood
  • Hepatocyte Growth Factor / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Periodontal Index
  • Periodontal Pocket / classification
  • Periodontitis / blood
  • Periodontitis / metabolism*
  • Periodontitis / microbiology
  • Protein Binding
  • Proto-Oncogene Mas
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-met / metabolism
  • Saliva / chemistry
  • Surface Plasmon Resonance


  • HGF protein, human
  • Heparan Sulfate Proteoglycans
  • MAS1 protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Mas
  • Hepatocyte Growth Factor
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-met