To identify the role in periodontal inflammatory diseases of human gingival fibroblasts (HGF), the major constituents of gingival tissue, the expression of CD14, a possible lipopolysaccharide (LPS) receptor, and the release of soluble CD14 (sCD14) by HGF were examined. Among the HGF samples from the nine donors tested, more than 50% of the HGF from five donors expressed CD14 but less than 20% of HGF from the other four donors did so, as determined by flow cytometric analysis. The CD14 expression on the cell surface was correlated with the expression of CD14 mRNA. The HGF and skin and lung fibroblasts tested expressed no CD18, which indicates that fibroblasts do not possess other LPS receptors, such as CD11b/CD18 and CD11c/CD18. The CD14 expression by the HGF was decreased after subculturing and was highest at the confluent stage of culture. The treatment of high-CD14-expressing (CD14(high)) HGF with phosphatidylinositol-phospholipase C reduced CD14 expression; this result and the increase in a 55-kDa CD14 indicate that the membrane CD14 (mCD14) on the HGF may be a 55-kDa glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored protein. CD14(high) HGF spontaneously released 48- and 57-kDa sCD14. The total release of sCD14 by the HGF was augmented by gamma interferon and Escherichia coli LPS in accordance with the increased expression of mCD14. The CD14(high) HGF secreted interleukin-8 in response to LPS, and the secretion was completely inhibited by anti-CD14 antibody. These results suggest that (i) HGF consist of populations that are heterogeneous on the basis of different levels of expression of CD14 and (ii) CD14(high) HGF secrete inflammatory cytokines in response to LPS via CD14.
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