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Introduction: Human gingival fibroblasts (HGF) have an important role in the periodontal immune response. The fibroblasts alter their normal behavior in response to pro-inflammatory cytokines. It is believed that HGF can be diminished and/or eliminated by means of apoptosis. The purpose of this study was to determine and to quantify apoptosis of HGF in periodontium biopsies from healthy and chronic periodontitis patients.
Methods: A clinical cross-sectional study in people with healthy periodontium (S), gingivitis (G) and chronic periodontitis (PC) patients was carried out. The periodontal biopsies were obtained and immunostained by means of: hematoxylin-eosin, caspase-3, vimentin and caspase-vimentin double-staining for specific visualization of apoptotic fibroblasts. Histopathological and digital analyses were performed. Descriptive statistics were applied to categorical and nominal variables.
Results: Total cell population of HGF had an average of 430±67.6 cells/field in healthy people, and a significantly progressive decrease in gingivitis (270±37.1) and chronic periodontitis groups (206.5±69.8) (p< 0.05). As for total population of inflammatory cells, an increase was noticed in gingivitis (191.8±50.1) and a decrease in periodontitis (109.3±21.7) without statistical significance. The expression of apoptotic HGF per field increased accordingly to the severity of the disease [28±16 in health (6.5%); 31±17 in gingivitis (11.5%) and 51±24 in periodontitis (24.8%), p< 0.001]. Similar findings were observed for inflammatory cells with different percentage expression [17±13 in health (23%); 28±19 in gingivitis (14.6%) and 47±35 in periodontitis (43.1%), p< 0.05]. The relationship between the percentage of expression of apoptotic cells and probing pocket depth was proportional but not significant (p>0.5, r²=0.02); while for the inflammatory cells a significant relationship was observed (p< 0.05, r²=0.2018).
Conclusions: The results in this report conclude that HGF and inflammatory cells show apoptosis (caspase-3 expression), and apoptotic cells are significantly increased in gingivitis and chronic periodontitis groups.

Roger Mauricio Arce, Universidad del Valle

Profesor Auxiliar, Escuela de Odontología, Facultad de Salud, Universidad del Valle, Cali, Colombia.

Oscar Tamayo, Universidad del Valle

Profesor Auxiliar, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Santiago de Cali, Cali, Colombia.

Armando Cortés, Universidad del Valle

Profesor Titular y Jefe del Departamento de Patología, Escuela de Medicina, Facultad de Salud, Universidad del Valle, Cali, Colombia.
Arce, R. M., Tamayo, O., & Cortés, A. (2007). Apoptosis of gingival fibroblasts in periodontitis. Colombia Medica, 38(3), 197–209.


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