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J Periodontal Res. 1990 May;25(3):135-42.

Salivary collagenase. Origin, characteristics and relationship to periodontal health.

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Department of Oral Biology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.


Saliva collected from subjects with healthy and with diseased periodontium was assayed for collagenase activity by incubation at 25 degrees C with soluble type I, II or III collagen. The degradation products were analyzed by separation in SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis followed either by protein staining or by exposure of the dried gel to X-ray film in the case of radioactively labeled type I collagen. Collagenase of vertebrate type was detected in the whole saliva of all subjects but not in parotid, sublingual or submandibular fluids. Most of the collagenase was in the soluble fraction of saliva that also contained factors which both activated and inhibited the enzyme. The salivary collagenase resembled the collagenase of human PMNs and gingival sulcular fluid in its molecular size of 70,000 daltons, in its activation by gold thioglucose and in its tendency to degrade types I and II collagens over type III collagen. Before periodontal treatment, the saliva of periodontitis patients had significantly higher collagenase than after treatment. In periodontitis, collagenase existed mainly in the active form, while in the healthy mouths most of the enzyme was latent but could be activated by sulfhydryl reagents or proteolytically with trypsin, and chymotrypsin but not by human plasma kallikrein or plasmin. In some of the samples from untreated periodontitis patients bacterial collagenase may have been present in small quantities. Most of the collagenase in the saliva from all subjects appeared to originate from PMNs entering the oral cavity through the gingival sulcus.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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