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J Endod. 2012 Dec;38(12):1592-7. doi: 10.1016/j.joen.2012.09.023. Epub 2012 Oct 18.

NLRP3 is expressed in human dental pulp cells and tissues.

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Department of Operative Dentistry and Endodontics, Guanghua School and Hospital of Stomatology and Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Stomatology, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China.



One of the best-characterized Nod-like receptor (NLR) family members is pyrin domain containing 3 (NLRP3). Intracellular NLRP3 is the most versatile innate immune receptor. On activation, NLRP3 assembles into a multiprotein complex, termed an inflammasome, which regulates the secretion and bioactivity of interleukin-1 family cytokines. NLRP3 has broad specificity for mediating an immune response to a wide range of microbial stimuli or danger signals. Therefore, we hypothesize that NLRP3 plays an essential role in the detection of bacterial pathogens and the initiation of inflammation within the dental pulp. Thus, the aim of this study was to evaluate the expression of NLRP3 in normal human dental pulp cells (HDPCs) and pulp tissues.


Pulp tissues were collected from freshly extracted human third molars, and HDPCs were prepared from the explants of normal dental pulp tissues. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and Western blotting were performed to detect the levels of NLRP3 mRNA and protein, respectively. In addition, immunohistochemical staining was used to determine the distribution of NLRP3 in pulp tissues.


Normal human dental pulp tissues displayed high levels of NLRP3 mRNA and protein. NLRP3 proteins were principally expressed in odontoblasts and some pulp vascular endothelial cells. Moreover, HDPCs also expressed NLRP3 but at a relatively low level in comparison with that of dental pulp tissues.


The expression of NLRP3 in HDPCs and pulp tissues suggests that NLRP3-mediated signaling pathways may play an important role in dental immune defense.

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