Aim: Lipopolysaccharide is a bacterial virulence factor implicated in chronic periodontitis, which may penetrate the junctional epithelial barrier and basement membrane to insult underlying stroma. We sought to identify lipopolysaccharide-induced global gene expression changes responsible for signalling between stroma and epithelium during disease onset. Materials and Methods Using a rat lipopolysaccharide periodontitis model, junctional epithelium and underlying stromal tissue were separately collected from healthy and diseased animals by laser-capture microdissection and subject to gene expression microarray analysis. Key gene products identified were validated in gingival epithelial and fibroblast cell cultures. Results: Global gene expression patterns distinguishing health versus disease were found in and between both tissue types. In stroma, the most significantly altered gene ontology function group (Z ≥ 4.00) was cytokines, containing most significantly (±2-fold; p < 0.05) upregulated genes amphiregulin, IL1-β and Fas ligand, all positive, diffusible modulators of the epithelial growth factor receptor pathway. In epithelium, the most significant changes were in downregulated FOS-related antigen-1 gene, somatostatin receptor-2 gene and mucin-4 gene, all negative modulators of the epithelial growth factor receptor pathway. Conclusion: These results establish a periodontitis model for studying gene product interactions and suggests that the onset of junctional epithelial disease hyperproliferation involves a concerted stromal-epithelial signalling axis.
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