Background and objectives: Aminopeptidase N (APN)/CD13 is a multifunctional ectoenzyme that is involved in anti-inflammatory reactions, control of immune reactions and differentiation of many cellular systems. Here, we hypothesized that CD13/APN would be expressed on human gingival fibroblasts (hGF) and would contribute to the regulation of immune responses in periodontal tissue. Methods and results: CD13/APN was expressed on hGF at the mRNA and protein levels as determined by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and flow cytometry, respectively. Enzymatic activities accompanying the expression were assessed by colorimetrical analysis using the synthetic substrate Leu-p-nitroanilide. We examined the possible regulation of CD13/APN expression on hGF in response to T cell-derived cytokines. T helper (Th) 2 cell type cytokines such as interleukin-4 and interleukin-13, but not interleukin-2 or interleukin-15, preferentially increased the expression of proteins as well as the enzymatic activities of CD13/APN in a dose-dependent manner. Receptors for these cytokines, the interleukin-4 receptor α chain, interleukin-13 receptor α1 chain, and interleukin-2R common γ chain, were expressed on hGF assessed by RT-PCR or flow cytometry. hGF exhibited inhibitory effects for formyl-methionyl-leucyl-phenylalanine (FMLP)-induced polymorphonuclear leukocyte-activation that was evaluated by Mac-1 expression, and this inhibitory effect was partially recovered by pre-treatment with the APN-specific inhibitor bestatin. Conclusions: These findings suggested that CD13/APN expressed by hGF could contribute to the anti-inflammatory response in periodontal tissue, and may be involved in disease processes mediated by Th2 cells.
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