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J Oral Pathol Med. 1992 Jan;21(1):12-6.

Distribution and phenotype of immune cells in normal human gingiva: active immune response versus unresponsiveness.

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Department of Pathology, University G. D'Annunzio, Chieti, Italy.


The oral cavity, and particularly the gingival mucosa, is continuously exposed to numerous food and bacterial plaque antigens, though evident immunologic reactions are uncommon. It is therefore possible that the mucosal associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) of this region is preferentially biased towards unresponsiveness, rather than immune cell activation. The distribution and phenotype of immune cells in normal human gingiva were examined. Their distribution varied, and high and low cellularity areas could be distinguished in the same specimen. The number of CD3 positive (CD3+) T lymphocytes was more than thrice higher in a high cellularity area. In both types of area, intraepithelial T lymphocytes were not activated. Moreover, they showed chromatin condensation and cell shrinkage characteristic of apoptosis. In the stroma of high cellularity areas, foci of cell activation and numerous B cells were present, suggesting a localized active immune response. The vast majority of intraepithelial and stromal T lymphocytes expressed the "memory" CD45RO+ phenotype. The absence of an immune response within the epithelium and the localized response in the stroma (probably due to the binding of memory T cells to antigens in a low affinity, cross-reactive fashion) may be a part of a protective mechanism against indiscriminate stimulation by a multitude of external antigens.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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