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J Periodontal Res. 2004 Dec;39(6):380-7.

Epidermal growth factor stimulates urokinase-type plasminogen activator expression in human gingival fibroblasts. Possible modulation by genistein and curcumin.

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Faculty of Odontology, University of Chile, Santiago, Chile.



Regulation of the extracellular matrix turnover is a crucial process in wound healing and the progress of periodontal disease. It has been proposed that urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA), under the control of growth factors or cytokines, provides the proteolytic potential to the accomplishment of these cellular events. Epidermal growth factor (EGF) is one of the growth factors that has been shown to be active in uPA regulation.


In this study, we have assessed the effect of EGF on uPA expression in primary cultures of human gingival fibroblasts. We also studied the signaling pathways involved in this process and the role of the dietary phytoestrogens curcumin and genistein as potential modulators of this response.


Human gingival fibroblasts expressed a basal uPA activity, which was inhibited by genistein, but not by curcumin. After treatment with 10 ng/ml EGF, uPA production was strongly stimulated. Exposure to genistein and curcumin inhibited EGF-stimulated urokinase production, although only genistein showed a statistically significant inhibitory response. Using more specific inhibitors, we found that the mitogen-activated extracellular kinase and c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) inhibitors PD98059 and SP600125 also blocked the EGF-dependent stimulatory effect. On the other hand, SB203580, inhibitor of the p38 member of mitogen-activated protein kinase family, did not alter this response. In accordance to these findings, EGF stimulated a potent activation of JNK and a mild activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinases 1/2. Finally, EGF stimulated the phosphorylation of its receptor and tyrphostin (AG1478), curcumin and genistein were able to inhibit this stimulatory effect.


These results indicate that EGF constitutes a strong stimuli on uPA expression in human gingival fibroblasts. Our data also shows that EGF-stimulated uPA production involves the activation of the extracellular signal-regulated kinases 1/2 and JNK signaling pathways and might be modulated by the natural phytoestrogens curcumin and genistein.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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