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J Dent Res. 2004 Mar;83(3):216-21.

Collagen degradation by host-derived enzymes during aging.

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Department of Oral Biology and Maxillofacial Pathology, Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, GA 30912, USA.


Incompletely infiltrated collagen fibrils in acid-etched dentin are susceptible to degradation. We hypothesize that degradation can occur in the absence of bacteria. Partially demineralized collagen matrices (DCMs) prepared from human dentin were stored in artificial saliva. Control specimens were stored in artificial saliva containing proteolytic enzyme inhibitors, or pure mineral oil. We retrieved them at 24 hrs, 90 and 250 days to examine the extent of degradation of DCM. In the 24-hour experimental and 90- and 250-day control specimens, we observed 5- to 6-microm-thick layers of DCM containing banded collagen fibrils. DCMs were almost completely destroyed in the 250-day experimental specimens, but not when incubated with enzyme inhibitors or mineral oil. Functional enzyme analysis of dentin powder revealed low levels of collagenolytic activity that was inhibited by protease inhibitors or 0.2% chlorhexidine. We hypothesize that collagen degradation occurred over time, via host-derived matrix metalloproteinases that are released slowly over time.

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