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J Pathol. 2006 Sep;210(1):59-66.

Epithelial and connective tissue cell CTGF/CCN2 expression in gingival fibrosis.

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Department of Periodontology and Oral Biology, Boston University, Goldman School of Dental Medicine, 700 Albany Street, Boston, MA 02118, USA.


Gingival overgrowth is a side effect of certain medications and occurs in non-drug-induced forms either as inherited (human gingival fibromatosis) or idiopathic gingival overgrowth. The most fibrotic drug-induced lesions develop in response to therapy with phenytoin; the least fibrotic lesions are caused by cyclosporin A; and intermediate fibrosis occurs in nifedipine-induced gingival overgrowth. Connective tissue growth factor (CTGF/CCN2) expression is positively related to the degree of fibrosis in these tissues. The present study has investigated the hypothesis that CTGF/CCN2 is expressed in human gingival fibromatosis tissues and contributes to this form of non-drug-induced gingival overgrowth. Histopathology/immunohistochemistry studies showed that human gingival fibromatosis lesions are highly fibrotic, similar to phenytoin-induced lesions. Connective tissue CTGF/CCN2 levels were equivalent to the expression in phenytoin-induced gingival overgrowth. The additional novel observation was made that CTGF/CCN2 is highly expressed in the epithelium of fibrotic gingival tissues. This finding was confirmed by in situ hybridization. Real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analyses of RNA extracted from drug-induced gingival overgrowth tissues for CTGF/CCN2 were fully consistent with these findings. Finally, normal primary gingival epithelial cell cultures were analysed for basal and transforming growth factor beta1 (TGF-beta1) or lysophosphatidic acid-stimulated CTGF/CCN2 expression at protein and RNA levels. These data indicate that fibrotic human gingival tissues express CTGF/CCN2 in both the epithelium and connective tissues; that cultured gingival epithelial cells express CTGF/CCN2; and that lysophosphatidic acid further stimulates CTGF/CCN2 expression. These findings suggest that interactions between epithelial and connective tissues could contribute to gingival fibrosis.

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