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J Periodontol. 2005 May;76(5):785-90.

Interleukin-18 concentrations and the pathogenesis of periodontal disease.

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Department of Periodontics and Preventive Sciences, University of Mississipi Medical Center, Jackson, MS 39216, USA.



Interleukin-18 (IL-18) is reported as an important regulatory cytokine in non-oral inflammation. Our objective was to compare the concentrations of IL-18 within diseased and healthy human gingiva with concentrations of other T(H)1 and T(H)2 cytokines to determine possible effects of IL-18 on gingival inflammation.


Gingival biopsies were obtained prior to routine tooth extraction. Gingiva was grouped by the depth of the adjacent gingival sulcus: < or =3 healthy (featuring no bleeding on probing) and > or =3 mm diseased (featuring bleeding on probing). Diseased gingiva was subdivided into 3, 4 to 6 and >6 mm groups. Gingival interleukin (IL)-2, IL-4, IL-6, IL-10, IL-12, IL-18, and interferon (IFN)-gamma concentrations were assessed by enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Data were compared by factorial analysis of variance and the Pearson's correlation test.


Concentrations of IL-2, IL-4, IL-6, IL-10, IL-18, and IFN-gamma adjacent to 4 to 6 mm diseased sites were greater than adjacent to < or =3 mm healthy sites (P <0.001). IL-12 concentrations were lower within diseased than within healthy gingiva (P <0.001). IL-6 and IL-18 concentrations were greater adjacent to >6 mm sites compared to healthy sites (P <0.001); the concentrations of the other cytokines (except IL-12) were similar to healthy sites. IL-6 and IL-18 concentrations were positively correlated, and IFN-gamma and IL-12 negatively correlated, with the adjacent gingival sulcular depth.


Periodontal inflammation may not successfully resolve because of accumulation of IL-6 and IL-18, and decreased concentrations of IL-12, within diseased gingiva. Because of the highly significant correlation between IL-18 concentration and gingival sulcular depth, IL-18 may be a useful target for either preventive or palliative therapy for periodontitis.

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